What Is a Motion for Joinder?

General Definition

A motion for joinder is a party’s request that the court add additional parties to a lawsuit. “The necessary joinder of a party if either of the following is true: (1) in that party's absence, those already involved in the lawsuit cannot receive complete relief; or (2) the absent party claims an interest in the subject of an action, so that party's absence might either impair the protection of that interest or leave some other party subject to multiple or inconsistent obligations.”
(Joinder, Black's Law Dictionary, 11th ed. 2019, available at Westlaw.)

Overview of State Court Authorities

Arizona

It is well settled that “where feasible, joinder may be required of a person if, in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties.”(See Gerow v. Covill, 192 Ariz. 9, 14, ¶ 21 (App. 1998) [citing Cyber Ninjas, Inc. v. Hannah, 1 CA-SA 21-0173, at *5 (Ariz. Ct. App. Nov. 9, 2021)].)

California

A motion for joinder has been interpreted to cover both “necessary” parties and “indispensable” ones. (Quantification Settlement Agreement Cases (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 758.) Indispensability is determined by considering the parties’ status when relief is to be entered or when the issue of indispensability is raised. (County of Imperial v. Super. Ct. (State Water Resources Control Bd.) (2007) 152 CA4th 13, 36.) “The controlling test for determining whether a person is an indispensable party is…”

Connecticut

Connecticut Practice Book § 9-3 states in relevant part: “All persons having an interest in the subject of the action, and in obtaining the judgment demanded, may be joined as plaintiffs, except as otherwise expressly provided; and, if one who ought to be joined as plaintiff declines to join, such person may be…”

Delaware

“Under Court of Chancery Rule 12(b)(7), a defendant may move for dismissal because of a failure to join a party under Rule 19. Pursuant to Rule 19(a), the court must determine whether an absent person should be party to the litigation.”(See Makitka v. New Castle Cnty. Council, Civil Action No. 6653-VCG, at *7-8 (Del. Ch. Dec. 23, 2011).)

Georgia

“OCGA § 9–11–19, which governs the joinder of necessary parties, provides that persons subject to service of process shall be joined if complete relief cannot be afforded in their absence, or they have an interest relating to the subject matter of the action such that disposition in their absence may impair their ability to protect that interest or may subject any parties to the action to a substantial risk of incurring multiple or inconsistent obligations by reason of such interest.” (Artson, LLC v. Hudson (2013) 322 Ga. App. 859…)

Illinois

“The standard of review of a trial court's refusal to require joinder of a party is whether the trial court abused its discretion.” (Carrao v. Health Care Service Corp. (1983) 118 Ill. App. 3d 417…)

Massachusetts

“Rule 19(a) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure generally provides that the category of "[p]ersons to be [j]oined if [f]easible" includes one whose absence would prevent complete relief from being afforded those already parties.” (See Mass. R.Civ.P. 19(a), 365 Mass. 765 (1974); Kitras v. Town of Aquinnah (2005) 64 Mass. App….)

Michigan

“The reason for such joinder of necessary parties is well known. ‘It is a general rule in equity that all parties entitled to litigate the same questions are necessary parties.’” (Yedinak v. Yedinak (1970) 383 Mich. 409…)

Missouri

“The presence of some unique factual circumstances in each of plaintiffs’ claims ... does not undercut the propriety of joinder.” (See Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson (2020) 608 S.W.3d 663…)

New Jersey

R. 4:28-1(a) defines an ‘indispensable party’ as one “in [whose] absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties" or who "claims an interest in the subject of the action and is so situated that the action cannot be disposed without affecting that interest.” (See Liebowitz v….)

New York

A necessary party is one whose non-joinder will jeopardize the outcome of the action in either of two ways: (1) complete relief cannot be accorded the existing parties to the action; or (2) the absentee may be inequitably affected by the judgment. (Civ. Prac. Law & Rules, § 1001(a); Castaways Motel v….)

Ohio

“R.C. 2721.12 mandates the joinder of necessary parties in order to avoid the possibility of piecemeal litigation and inconsistent results. Class certification would achieve these objectives.” (Binder v. Cuyahoga Cnty., 2016 Ohio 8305, 8 [Ohio Ct. App. 2016] finding that “appellants' complaint satisfies the requirements of R.C. 2721.12, unless and until class certification is denied.”])

Oklahoma

“We review a district court's joinder of counts or denial of severance for an abuse of discretion.” (See Smith v. State (2007) 157 P.3d 1155…) (continue reading)

Pennsylvania

“Section 7540 of the Declaratory Judgments Act, 42 Pa. C.S. § 7540, provides that a declaratory judgment action will not lie unless all interested persons who could be affected by the judgment are joined as parties. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. v. Diamond Fuel Company,464 Pa. 377, 346 A.2d 788 (1975), defined an indispensable party as ‘one whose rights are so directly connected with and affected by litigation that he must be a party of record to protect such rights, and his absence renders any order or decree of court null and void for want of jurisdiction.’” (Pennsylvania Med. Providers v. Foster (1990) 136 Pa. Commw. 232, 243 quoting e.g., County of Allegheny v. Commonwealth (1983) 71 Pa. Commw. 32.)

Rhode Island

“In order for parties to be joined pursuant to Rule 20(a), there are two requirements which must be met: (1) A claim or claims asserted by the plaintiffs and/or against the defendants must arise out of the same transaction or occurrence or series of transactions or occurrences and there must be involved; and (2) a question of law or fact common to all the parties.” (See Hanes Dye and Finishing Company v. Caisson Corp. (1970) 309 F. Supp. 237…)

Texas

Tex. R. Civ. P. 39(a) states in relevant part, “A person who is subject to service of process shall be joined as a party in the action if . . . he claims an interest relating to the subject of the action….”

Washington

“CR 19(a)(2)(A) requires joinder when a person claims an interest in the subject matter of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in his absence may impede his ability to protect that interest.” (See Coastal Building v. Seattle (1992) 65 Wn. App. 1, 5.)

Wisconsin

“Whether an individual is a necessary party is a question of law we review de novo.” (See Dairyland Greyhound Park, Inc. v. McCallum (2002) WI App 259, ¶¶10-11, 258 Wis. 2d 210, 655 N.W.2d 474; Nelson v. Loessin (2020) 394 Wis. 2d 784…)

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