I'm currently a 1L and asked my civ pro professor, but have yet to get a response.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14(a)(2)(C,D), an impleaded party may assert claims against the plaintiff. Suppose the defendant makes a counterclaim and the plaintiff impleads a third party. Can that third party assert claims against the defendant?

Looking at the language of 14(a)(2), it doesn't seem so, and 14(b) doesn't say that the 14(a) applies to it.

(b) When a Plaintiff May Bring in a Third Party. When a claim is asserted against a plaintiff, the plaintiff may bring in a third party if this rule would allow a defendant to do so.


1 Answer 1


The Plaintiff can't implead a third party. If the Plaintiff amends its complaint to join a new party to the case, that new party is a defendant, and as such, may assert counterclaims against the Plaintiff and crossclaims against any co-defendant in the case.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14 applies to third-party complaints brought by defendants who sue third-parties, not to first party complaints brought by plaintiffs against newly joined parties.

FRCP 14(a)(2)(B) provides that the Third-Party Defendant may bring counterclaims against the defendant who filed the Third-Party Complaint.

FRCP 14(a)(2)(C) and(D) provides that the Third-Party Defendant may bring claims against and assert affirmative defenses against the Plaintiff who sued the Third-Party Defendant, even though the Plaintiff didn't itself sue the Third-Party Defendant.

There is a question upon which FRCP 14 is silent, however. Can a third-party defendant in a case brought by a defendant/third-party plaintiff bring claims against co-defendants of the defendant/third-party plaintiff that sued the third-party defendant?

The rule does not expressly authorize such a quasi-cross-claim. But, in practice, by hook or by crook, most federal court judges would allow a third-party defendant to do so by some means, although without so prolonged research I couldn't tell you exactly how that would be justified.

Perhaps, the third-party defendant would bring a (second order) third-party complaint against other defendants in the case. Likewise, an existing co-defendant in the case could probably bring a third-party complaint against the third-party defendant already sued by their co-defendant.

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