In Temple v. Synthes Corp., 498 U.S. 5 (1990) (per curiam), this Court unanimously held that joint tortfeasors are not required parties under Rule 19(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because “[i]t has long been the rule that it is not necessary for all joint tortfeasors to be named as defendants in a single lawsuit.” Id. at 7. Six circuits have recognized the rule that joint wrongdoers are not required parties under Rule 19(a). Three circuits now have followed the opposite rule in holding that, in some circumstances, a joint tortfeasor is a required party, while case law in the Seventh Circuit is conflicted. The Eighth Circuit below followed the minority line of the circuit split to affirm the district court’s dismissal of the action under Rule 19 for failure to join the United States.
The question presented is: Does Rule 19 incorporate the common law rule that joint tortfeasors are not required parties?
Lower court materials here.