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Into the Labyrinth

Joinder of Parties under Rule 14


A persistent civil procedure theme explored in the earlier chapters is the right of the plaintiff or plaintiffs to sculpt the lawsuit by their choice of the forum and their initial decisions to join parties as plaintiffs or defendants. An equally persistent theme, however, is the various ways in which the plaintiff’s well-laid plans may go awry. For example, she may end up in a different court if the defendant removes or seeks a change of venue, or she may end up defending a claim if another party asserts a crossclaim or counterclaim against her.

Rule 14 provides another example of the complexities that await the unwary plaintiff who disregards Dickens’s famous advice.[1] Rule 14(a) gives a defendant a limited right to implead (that is, bring into the suit) new parties against whom she has claims related to the main action. Under the rule the defendant may bring in a person not yet a party to the suit who may be liable to her---the defendant---for all or part of any recovery the plaintiff obtains on the main claim.

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