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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 00-1929




[231 PA. CODE CH. 1500]

Proposed Amendments Relating to Joinder of Causes of Action at Law in Actions in Equity; Proposed Recommendation No. 165

[30 Pa.B. 5836]

   The Civil Procedural Rules Committee proposes that Rules of Civil Procedure 1508 and 1510 governing actions in equity be amended as set forth herein. The proposed recommendation is being submitted to the bench and bar for comments and suggestions prior to its submission to the Supreme Court.

   All communications in reference to the proposed recommendation should be sent not later than December 29, 2000 to:

Harold K. Don, Jr., Esquire,
Civil Procedural Rules Committee,
5035 Ritter Road, Suite 700,
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055
or E-Mail to

   The Explanatory Comment which appears in connection with the proposed recommendation has been inserted by the Committee for the convenience of the bench and bar. It will not constitute part of the rules of civil procedure nor will it be officially adopted or promulgated by the Court.

Annex A




Subchapter A.  RULES

Rule 1508.  Pleading More Than One Cause of Action.

   (a)  The plaintiff may state in the complaint two or more causes of action cognizable in equity.

   Official Note: If more than one cause of action is asserted by or against two or more plaintiffs or defendants, the causes of action must arise from the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and a common question of law or fact affecting the rights or liabilities of all the parties must arise in the action. Rule 2229(a), (b).

   (b)  If a transaction or occurrence gives rise to more than one cause of action against the same person, including causes of action in the alternative and causes of action equitable or legal, they may be joined in separate counts in the action against any such person.

Rule 1510.  Counterclaim.

   (a)  A defendant may plead as a counterclaim only a cause of action, whether equitable or legal, which arises from the same transaction or occurrence or series of transactions or occurrences from which the plaintiff's cause of action arose. [A counterclaim shall not be subject to the objection provided in Rule 1509(c).]

   (b)  [A counterclaim shall be pleaded and tried as an action in equity.] Rescinded.

Explanatory Comment

Joinder of Causes of Action at Law and in Equity

   The proposed addition of subdivision (b) to Rule 1508 is not so much a change in equity practice as a change in the rule to accommodate the reality of modern equity practice. A litigant should be able to join in one action related causes of action, i.e., causes of action arising out of the same transaction or occurrence or series of transactions or occurrences. This is already true of multiple causes of action all arising in equity under current Equity Rule 1508 and also causes of action all arising at law under Civil Action Rule 1020(d). It is proposed that a similar rule apply where a plaintiff brings an action in equity and wishes to join related causes of action at law in the equity action. When causes of action are related, litigants should not be required to commence separate actions at law and in equity with separate pleading and separate service of process and eventually consolidate those actions for trial.

   The joinder of actions at law and in equity under proposed Rule 1508(b) is permissive. A cause of action is not waived by failure to join even though related to other causes of action asserted in an action.

Preliminary Objections

   Rule 1509 governs preliminary objections in an action in equity. Subdivision (c) provides for pleading ''the existence of a full, complete and adequate non-statutory remedy at law''. This objection is equally applicable to causes of action in equity whether brought alone or joined with a cause of action at law as provided in proposed Rule 1508(b). Equity jurisdiction should not be exercised if the non-statutory remedy at law is ''full, complete and adequate.''

   Equity Rule 1510(a) governing counterclaims currently provides that a related cause of action, whether equitable or legal, may be pleaded as a counterclaim. The second sentence of the rule further provides that a ''counterclaim shall not be subject to the objection provided in Rule 1509(c).'' However, there appears to be no reason to apply a rule to a counterclaim which differs from that applicable to the plaintiff's causes of action. Consequently, it is proposed that Rule 1510(a) be amended by deleting the exemption of a counterclaim from the objection in Rule 1509(c).

Pleading and Trial

   An action at law and an action in equity do not lose their characteristics by their joinder in one action. Yet, current Rule 1510(b) provides that a counterclaim shall be pleaded and tried as an action in equity, making no distinction between counterclaims at law and in equity.

   There appears to be no reason why the rule should mandate that causes of action at law joined in an action in equity should be pleaded and tried as an action in equity. It is therefore proposed that Rule 1510(b) be rescinded. However, there is no corresponding statement added that an action at law so joined should be pleaded and tried as an action at law. The pleading and trial of causes of action at law and in equity joined in one action will frequently follow the respective practices and procedures governing the particular actions joined. However, if a variation in procedure is appropriate to a particular case, such a determination would appear to be better left to case law to develop as the courts strive for ''the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action'' envisioned by Rule 126.

   By the Civil Procedural Rules Committee


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 00-1929. Filed for public inspection November 10, 2000, 9:00 a.m.]

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