Temple v. Synthes Corp.

498 U.S. 5, rehg. denied, 498 U.S. 1092 (1990)

Yeazell, pp. 32-33


Facts: Temple had a plate implanted in his spine.  The screws broke off the plate inside his back.  He sued the manufacturer of the plate and screws in federal court and started a state administrative proceeding against the doctor and hospital.  After that proceeding was done, Temple filed suit against them in state court.


Procedural Posture: The manufacturer moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit for failure to join the doctor and hospital under Rule 19.  The district court ordered Temple to join the doctor and hospital, but Temple failed to do so and the suit was dismissed with prejudice.  Temple appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which upheld and then denied a petition for rehearing.  The Supreme Court granted cert.


Issue: Are joint tortfeasors indispensable parties under Rule 19(b)?


Rule: It is not necessary for all joint tortfeasors to be named as defendants in the same suit.


Analysis: The Court finds that joint tortfeasors are permissive rather than indispensable parties.  Even though the Court finds that it would be more efficient to have all the parties in the same suit, it refuses to force the plaintiff to run their suit that way.


Conclusion: The judgment of the Fifth Circuit is reversed and the case is remanded.


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