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Joinder is the process to consolidate claims or parties into one case

In federal civil lawsuits, the procedure for joinder is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

  • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18 allows “A party asserting a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim” to “join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.” 
  • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 requires that certain parties be joined if “the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties” or the party “claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest or leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of the interest.” If joining a required party is not feasible, the court should consider whether the action should proceed in their absence. 
  • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 allows for permissive joinder of parties if they assert a right to relief as plaintiffs or face a claim as defendants that arise out of the same transaction or occurrence or share a common question of law or fact
  • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21 makes clear that misjoinder or nonjoinder should lead to the court adding or dropping parties or severing claims, rather than dismissing the action.

In federal criminal cases, joinder is governed by Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

  • Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8 provides for the joinder of offenses when they “are of the same or similar character, or are based on the same act or transaction, or are connected with or constitute parts of a common scheme or plan.” The rule also allows the joinder of defendants if they are “alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction, or in the same series of acts or transactions, constituting an offense or offenses.”
  • Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14 allows the court to order separate trials for counts or defendants if the joinder of offenses or defendants “appears to prejudice” either the defendant or the government. 

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]