Rule 22 – Interpleader

(a) Grounds.

(1) By a Plaintiff. Persons with claims that may expose a plaintiff to double or multiple liability may be joined as defendants and required to interplead. Joinder for interpleader is proper even though:

(A) the claims of the several claimants, or the titles on which their claims depend, lack a common origin or are adverse and independent rather than identical; or

(B) the plaintiff denies liability in whole or in part to any or all of the claimants.

(2) By a Defendant. A defendant exposed to similar liability may seek interpleader through a crossclaim or counterclaim.

(b) Relation to Other Rules and Statutes. This rule supplements—and does not limit—the joinder of parties allowed by Rule 20. The remedy this rule provides is in addition to—and does not supersede or limit—the remedy provided by 28 U.S.C. §§1335, 1397, and 2361. An action under those statutes must be conducted under these rules.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22 covers “Interpleader,” a mechanism that allows a party holding property or money (the “stakeholder”) to initiate a lawsuit to compel two or more other parties, who make conflicting claims to that property or money, to litigate their claims against each other. Interpleader is designed to protect the stakeholder from multiple liabilities or multiple litigations over the same property or funds. Here’s a breakdown of its key components:

  1. Purpose of Interpleader: The primary purpose of Rule 22 is to provide a stakeholder, who holds property or money claimed by two or more parties, with a way to avoid the risk of inconsistent judgments and the burden of defending multiple claims in different courts. By using interpleader, the stakeholder can deposit the disputed asset with the court and let the claimants litigate their entitlements among themselves.
  2. Jurisdiction: Interpleader actions can be brought in federal court if they meet the jurisdictional requirements, including the diversity of citizenship requirement or if the case involves a federal question. The stakeholder does not need to have a stake in the underlying claim beyond the obligation to distribute the property or funds correctly.
  3. Procedure: The stakeholder initiates the action by filing a complaint in interpleader, identifying the claimants and the nature of their claims. The stakeholder may be required to deposit the disputed property or funds with the court. The court then serves the claimants, who must litigate their claims to the property or money in question.
  4. Relief for Stakeholder: Once the stakeholder has complied with the procedure for interpleader—such as depositing the property or funds with the court and demonstrating that the claims are such that the stakeholder might face multiple liabilities—the stakeholder can be discharged from liability. This means the stakeholder is typically released from further obligation regarding the disputed asset once it’s deposited with the court.
  5. Statutory Interpleader: Besides Rule 22, there is also a statutory interpleader under 28 U.S.C. § 1335, which has different jurisdictional requirements and may be used in certain circumstances to initiate an interpleader action. Statutory interpleader is particularly useful when the claimants are from different states, and it allows for nationwide service of process, among other benefits.

In summary, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22 provides a procedural framework for stakeholders to resolve disputes between claimants over property or money the stakeholder controls, by bringing all claimants into a single lawsuit. This rule is crucial for avoiding multiple liabilities for the stakeholder and for resolving competing claims efficiently and equitably.


(As amended Dec. 29, 1948, eff. Oct. 20, 1949; Mar. 2, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 30, 2007, eff. Dec. 1, 2007.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1937

The first paragraph provides for interpleader relief along the newer and more liberal lines of joinder in the alternative. It avoids the confusion and restrictions that developed around actions of strict interpleader and actions in the nature of interpleader. Compare John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Kegan et al., (D.C.Md., 1938) [ 22 F.Supp. 326 ]. It does not change the rules on service of process, jurisdiction, and venue, as established by judicial decision.

The second paragraph allows an action to be brought under the recent interpleader statute when applicable. By this paragraph all remedies under the statute are continued, but the manner of obtaining them is in accordance with these rules. For temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions under this statute, see Rule 65(e).

This rule substantially continues such statutory provisions as U.S.C., Title 38, §445 [now 1984] (Actions on claims; jurisdiction; parties; procedure; limitation; witnesses; definitions) (actions upon veterans’ contracts of insurance with the United States), providing for interpleader by the United States where it acknowledges indebtedness under a contract of insurance with the United States; U.S.C., Title 49, §97 [now 80110(e)] (Interpleader of conflicting claimants) (by carrier which has issued bill of lading). See Chafee, The Federal Interpleader Act of 1936: I and II (1936), 45 Yale L.J. 963, 1161.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1948 Amendment

The amendment substitutes the present statutory reference.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendment is technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes on Rules—2007 Amendment

The language of Rule 22 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Civil Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only.

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