Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 22: Interpleader
Persons having claims against the plaintiff may be joined as defendants and required to interplead when their claims are such that the plaintiff is or may be exposed to double or multiple liability. It is not ground for objection to the joinder that the claims of the several claimants or the titles on which their claims depend do not have a common origin or are not identical but are adverse to and independent of one another, or that the plaintiff avers that he is not liable in whole or in part to any or all of the claimants. A defendant exposed to similar liability may obtain such interpleader by way of cross-claim or counterclaim. The provisions of this rule supplement and do not in any way limit the joinder of parties permitted in Rule 20.
Effective July 1, 1974.
Reporter's Notes (1973): Rule 20 allows joinder of defendants where it is uncertain which of them is liable. Rule 22 acts as a useful corollary to Rule 20 by making the same free joinder available to the person against whom a claim might otherwise be pressed by several different persons. See 7 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, §1702.
Rule 22 is identical with Federal Rule 22(1). Federal Rule 22(2) is inappropriate to Massachusetts practice.
Rule 22 removes a number of technical statutory and case-law restrictions under prior law. It avoids the confusion between the so-called strict interpleader (see Gonia v. O'Brion, 223 Mass. 177, 179, 111 N.E. 787, 788 (1916)) and bills in the nature of interpleader (see Savage v. McCauley, 301 Mass. 162, 164, 16 N.E.2d 639, 640 (1988)). It eliminates any requirement that the claims be identical or based upon a common origin or title. Further, it allows the person asking relief to aver that he is not liable in whole or in part to any or all of the claimants. In other words he may plead that he owes no claimant anything; but that if he does, he does not know which. As under prior law (see Perkins v. Darker, 345 Mass. 763, 764, 186 N.E.2d 607 (1962)), Rule 22 makes the impleader remedy completely available to the plaintiff as well as the defendant, and allows interpleader by way of cross-claim or counterclaim.
Rule 22 does not specifically cover the following case: P sues D; D denies his liability but maintains that if he is liable at all, he may instead be liable to T. Rule 22 does not mention "impleader" in the catalogue of defendant's remedies. The Reporters believe, however, that Rule 20 (Permissive Joinder of Parties) would allow T to be joined as a plaintiff; D could then assert an appropriate claim for interpleader.
Under pre-Rules Massachusetts caselaw, if the party seeking to compel interpleader has incurred a personal liability to either of the other parties, independent of the question between the claimants themselves, interpleader will not lie. Gonia v. O'Brion supra; National Security Bank of Boston v. Batt, 215 Mass. 489, 102 N.E. 691 (1913). Rule 22 is silent on this point. There is however one federal decision Olivier v. Humble Oil and Refining Co., 225 F.Supp. 536, 539 (D.La. 1963), holding that under Federal Rule 22 it is immaterial that the party counterclaiming for interpleader has a so-called independent liability to the plaintiff or that the claims of the parties sought to be interpleaded are independent of the claims of the plaintiff. This same result was reached by a state court construing identical language. See Jersey Insurance Company of New York v. Altieri, 5 N.J.Super. 577, 68 A.2d 852 (1949).