Such third-party complaints are characterized by the defendant's attempt "to transfer to the third-party defendant the liability asserted against him by the original plaintiff." 6 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1446, at 257 (1971). This characteristic distinguishes a proper third-party complaint from a situation in which "the alleged third-party claim arises from the same transaction or set of facts as the original claim . . . ." Id. A mere factual relationship is insufficient under Rule 14. The third-party defendants' liability "cannot simply be an independent or related claim but must be based upon plaintiff's claim against defendant." Id.
The third-party complaint at issue in this case does not meet these standards. The claims asserted by the defendants/third-party plaintiffs against the third-party defendants are not based upon the plaintiffs' claims against the defendant. Instead, they are based upon the defendants' counterclaims against the plaintiffs. Although the third-party claims and counterclaims are factually related to the original claim, that relationship is insufficient under Rule 14. See Farmers Production Credit Association v. Whiteman, 100 F.R.D. 310, 312 & n.1 (N.D. N.Y. 1983).
Although defendants/third-party plaintiffs may not proceed under Rule 14, it does not follow that their claim against the third-party defendants should be stricken. Rule 13(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the impleader of non-parties as defendants to cross-claims or counterclaims. See Fed. R.Civ. P. 13(h). Under Rule 13(h), parties may be joined to adjudicate a counterclaim "that already is before the court . . . . This means that a counterclaim . . . may not be directed solely against persons who are not already parties to the original action, but must involve at least one existing party." 6 C. Wright & A. Miller, supra, at § 1435, at 188.
It appears that the defendants/third-party plaintiffs actually intended to join Lind and Taylor as defendants to the existing counterclaim against plaintiff. See Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Sales, Inc. v. Ralston Steel Corp., 25 F.R.D. 23, 25 (N.D. Ill. 1959). Their attempt to proceed under Rule 14 was not an appropriate means to accomplish this end. See 6 C Wright & A. Miller, supra, at § 1446, at 255. Nonetheless, they meet the standards for joinder of parties under Rule 13(h). Therefore, I find that Lind and Taylor properly are joined as third-party defendants on the counterclaim in this case.
See Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v. Fernandez, 489 F. Supp. 434, 441 (S.D. Fla. 1979).
Rule 13(h) provides for the joinder of additional parties as defendants on a counterclaim in accordance with Rules 19 and 20. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(h). Those rules, in turn, provide for the necessary and permissive joinder of parties. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 19, 20. Thus, the question presented under Rule 13(h) is whether Lind and Taylor may be joined as parties to the counterclaim under either Rule 19 or 20. See Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Sales, Inc., 25 F.R.D. at 25.
Joinder of parties under Rule 19 is appropriate "when nonjoinder would prevent complete relief from being accorded the existing parties or would have a prejudicial effect on the nonparty's ability to protect his own interests." See 7 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1604 (Supp. 1985); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a). In this case, defendants/third-party plaintiffs essentially allege that third-party defendants Lind and Taylor caused, aided, or abetted the plaintiffs' commission of many of the acts described in the counterclaim. It therefore appears that the third-party defendants are charged with extensive involvement in those acts. On that basis, it appears that the third-party defendants appropriately are joined under Rule 19 as necessary parties to the counterclaim.
Even if the third-party defendants are improperly joined under Rule 19, this case clearly meets the standards for permissive joinder under Rule 20. Rule 20 provides for the joinder of parties as defendants when "there is asserted against them . . . any right to relief in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a). In this case, both the counterclaim and the third-party complaint seek relief for the alleged injuries caused by the "transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences" surrounding the demise of the light maintenance service arrangements between plaintiffs and defendants/third-party plaintiffs. By the same token, the identity of the acts alleged in the counterclaim and the third-party complaint indicates that there are a number of common questions of fact and law at issue in this case. In sum, the third-party defendants are joined appropriately as defendants on the counterclaim under Rule 20, if not under Rule 19.
AND NOW, this 9th day of June, 1986, for reasons set forth in this Memorandum and Order, it is hereby ORDERED:
1. Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss Counts III -- VIII of Defendants' Counterclaim is DENIED.
2. Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Defendants' Third-Party Complaint is DENIED.