Sometimes joining a party to a case is difficult. Thus, Rule 19 gives the instructions on how to utilize a complex joinder. There is a three step process to follow:
- Deciding whether the absentee (party not originally sued) is a required party. The court considers:
- Whether absence would fail complete relief to existing parties
- The absence would either impair an ability to protect interest in a claim or lead to another party being responsible for more than their worth
- Determining whether joinder is feasible.
- Lack of personal jurisdiction
- Joining may destroy complete diversity
- Deciding whether to dismiss or continue without joining.
- Evaluate a potential risk of prejudice to existing parties
- Consider ways to lessen prejudice
- Whether judgement in absence is adequate
- Adequate remedies available if dismissed
Torrington Co. v. Yost
129 F.R.D. 91 (D.S.C. 1991).
Yost is the defendant who is arguing that the case should be dismissed because an indispensable party is unable to participate in the litigation.
Two questions. First, is INA an indispensable party that is feasible to be joined? Second, whether the case should be dismissed or continued without the party.
“A party should be joined if feasible if conjoined would deny complete relief to the parties present, or impair the absent person’s interest or prejudice the persons already parties by subjecting them to a risk of multiple or inconsistent obligations.” Feasibility is dependent on ability to complete service of process without depriving the court of subject matter jurisdiction.
Consideration for dismissal examines:
- “To what extent a judgment rendered in the person’s absence may be prejudicial to the person or those already parties;
- The extent to which by protective provision in the judgment, the prejudice can be lessened or avoided;
- Whether a judgment rended in the person’s absence will be adequate; and
- Whether the plaintiff will have an adequate remedy if the action is dismissed for nonjoinder.
Case should be dismissed because INA is an indispensable party whose joining would subvert the courts subject matter jurisdiction (not feasible to join).
Yost was employed by Torrnington for some time before leaving to work with INA. Shortly thereafter, Torrington sued Yost in federal courts for taking trade secrets and sharing them with his new employer. Consequently, Torrington sought that Yost should not work for INA for 18 months and that any trade documents should be returned.
Yost argues that the case should be dismissed because Torrington failed to properly join all necessary parties under rule 19.
First, the court determines that INA is an indispensable party of interest. All of the claims relate to INA, their employment, etc. However, including INA is not feasible because subject matter jurisdiction would be destroyed (sued in federal court on state law claims with no diversity). As such, the court considers whether the case should be dismissed or continued without INA.
Second, the court determines that the case should be dismissed by applying the four factors. First, judgment in the absence of INA would be prejudicial to parties because litigation would have a significant impact on INA (returning documents). Second, protective provisions here would not work because a court order may be inconsistent with Yost’s employment contract with INA (thus subjecting him to further litigation for breach of contract). Third, Torrington would receive an inadequate judgment without INA as a party. Finally, there is another existing forum, so there is still another remedy.
Ultimately, this is a rare scenario where a Rule 19 would be appropriate. The defendant is in a rare situation where they are unable use Rule 14 to bring in another defendant (derivative liability is not available). Bringing in the essential defendant is not feasible because it would destroy subject matter jurisdiction. Consequently, the case needed to be dismissed and refiled in a state court.
Temple v. Synthes Corp.
498 U.S. 5 (1990).
Temple is the plaintiff who lost at trial court (case was dismissed). Thus, Temple appealed.
Is dismissal appropriate?
A party who has derivative liability should be brought into the case through Rule 14. If this is feasible, the case should not be dismissed.
The party could have been brought in through Rule 14, the case should not have been dismissed. Reversed.
Temple had a surgery which included a plate and screws being placed in his lower back. Later, the screws broke and caused significant damage. Thus, Temple sued the manufacturer of the screws, Synthes. However, Synthes is arguing that the case should be dismissed because Temple should have also sued the doctor.
This is a situation where the defendant is requesting to dismiss for Rule 19. However, this is a situation where an impleader not dismissal is appropriate. Therefore, the defendant is able to bring the third-party defendant into the litigation because the doctor contributed to the injury. Consequently, this is derivative liability.
Intervention is the idea that a party, on their own accord, jump into the litigation. Ultimately, intervention allows an interested party to reserve their legal rights. This is because it prevents the original parties from settling and thus not considering the rights of the intervening party.
28 U.S.C. § 1335
If there are multiple potential claimants against the defendant that the defendant is not aware of (e.g. insurance companies who are not aware of all beneficiaries), then they can go to the district court and fulfill their contract with the court for all claimants to come and recover. This prevents defendant’s from being duplicately liable.
The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.