In a civil action case, all persons may join in a single cause of action if they are asserting a right to any relief from an occurrence or arising from the same occurrence where the questions of law or fact are common to all of the persons.
For example, if you and your spouse were hit when someone ran a red light. You were both injured and you sue the negligent driver in superior court. You spouse could be added under civil rule 20 as a permissive party as they also have a cause of action against the defendant driver and both cases arise from the same occurrence, the car accident.
Additionally, under civil rule 21 if a party has been added to a cause of action and it is not appropriate for the person to be party action then the party may be dropped from the cause of action upon motion to the court.
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Washington Superior Court Civil Rule 20 and 21 for civil cases are as follows:
Civil Rule 20: Permissive Joinder of Parties
(a) Permissive joinder. All persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative 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 of these persons will arise in the action. All persons may be joined in one action as defendant if there is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative, 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. A plaintiff or defendant need not be interested in obtaining or defending against all the relief demanded. Judgment may be given for one or more of the plaintiffs according to their respective rights to relief, and against one or more defendants according to their respective liabilities.
(b) Separate trials. The court may make such orders as will prevent a party from being embarrassed, delayed, or put to expense by the inclusion of a party against whom the party asserts no claim and who asserts no claim against the party, and may order separate trials or make other orders to prevent delay or prejudice.
(c) When Either Spouse or Either Domestic Partner may join. [Reserved. See RCW 4.08.040.]
(d) Service on joint defendants; procedure after service. When the action is against two or more defendants and the summons is served on one or more but not on all of them, the plaintiff may proceed as follows:
(1) If the action is against the defendants jointly indebted upon a contract, the plaintiff may proceed against the defendants served unless the court otherwise directs; and if the plaintiff recovers judgment it may be entered against all the defendants thus jointly indebted so far only as it may be enforced against the joint property of all and the separate property of the defendants served.
(2) If the action is against defendants severally liable, the plaintiff may proceed against the defendants served in the same manner as if they were the only defendants.
(3) Though all the defendants may have been served with the summons, judgment may be taken against any of them severally, when the plaintiff would be entitled to judgment against such defendants if the action had been against them alone.
(e) Procedure to bind joint debtor. [Reserved. See RCW 4.68.]
Civil Rule 21: Misjoinder and Non-joinder of Parties
Misjoinder of parties is not ground for dismissal of an action. Parties may be dropped or added by order of the court on motion of any party or of its own initiative at any stage of the action and on such terms as are just. Any claim against a party may be severed and proceeded with separately.
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