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Joinder

Joinder Of Action

Under certain circumstances a plaintiff may join several causes of action, or claims for relief, in one complaint, declaration, or petition, even though each could have been the basis for a separate lawsuit. This procedure is not the same as the common one in which a plaintiff relies on more than one theory of recovery or mode of redress to correct a single wrong.

To determine if the plaintiff is joining separate causes of action, as opposed to merely pursuing more than one means of redress, some courts look to whether the plaintiff is seeking to enforce more than one distinct primary right or whether the complaint addresses more than one subject of controversy. Other courts look to whether the claims emanate from a single occurrence or transaction. If the court's inquiry shows that a plaintiff is attempting to join several causes of action into one lawsuit, the court must look to the applicable court rules and statutes to determine if such a joining is permissible.

Modern statutes and rules of practice governing joinder of causes of action vary by jurisdiction. In general, however, they are liberal and encourage joinder when it promotes efficiency in the justice system. For example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a plaintiff may join in one suit as many claims as she or he has against an opposing party. Some state rules are similarly broad. Many states provide that the court, on its own motion or on the motion of a party, may consolidate similarly related cases.

Joinder is not always favored by modern rules of court and statutes. Some statutes will not permit the joinder of causes of action that require different places of trial. Also, the various joinder statutes generally provide that inconsistent causes of action—that is, ones that disprove or defeat each other—cannot be joined in the same lawsuit. For example, a plaintiff may not in a single suit rely on a contract as valid and also treat the same contract as rescinded. However, contract and TORT actions may be combined in one suit when they arise out of the same occurrence or transaction and are not inconsistent.

Misjoinder Misjoinder is an objection that may be made when a plaintiff joins separate causes of action that cannot be joined according to the applicable law. Some states require the plaintiff to decide which of the misjoined claims he or she wants to pursue. Other states allow the court to sever the misjoined claims into separate actions.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Internal Revenue Service - Duties And Powers to Joint willJoinder - Joinder Of Parties, Joinder Of Action - Joinder of Issue