Rule 2.204 Third-Party Practice

(A) When Defendant May Bring in Third Party.

(1) Subject to the provisions of MCL 500.3030, any time after commencement of an action, a defending party, as a third-party plaintiff, may serve a summons and complaint on a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to the third-party plaintiff for all or part of the plaintiff's claim. The third-party plaintiff need not obtain leave to make the service if the third-party complaint is filed within 21 days after the third-party plaintiff's original answer was filed. Otherwise, leave on motion with notice to all parties is required. Unless the court orders otherwise, the summons issued on the filing of a third-party complaint is valid for 21 days after it is issued, and must include the expiration date. See MCR 2.102(B)(8).

(2) Within the time provided by MCR 2.108(A)(1)-(3), the person served with the summons and third-party complaint (the “third-party defendant”) must respond to the third-party plaintiff's claim as provided in MCR 2.111, and may file counterclaims against the third-party plaintiff and cross-claims against other parties as provided in MCR 2.203. The third-party defendant may assert against the plaintiff any defenses which the third-party plaintiff has to the plaintiff's claim. The third-party defendant may also assert a claim against the plaintiff arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff.

(3) The plaintiff may assert a claim against the third-party defendant arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff, and the third-party defendant must respond as provided in MCR 2.111 and may file counterclaims and cross-claims as provided in MCR 2.203.

(4) A party may move for severance, separate trial, or dismissal of the third-party claim. The court may direct entry of a final judgment on either the original claim or the third-party claim, in accordance with MCR 2.604(B).

(5) A third-party defendant may proceed under this rule against a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to the third-party defendant for all or part of a claim made in the action against the third-party defendant.

(B) When Plaintiff May Bring in Third Party. A plaintiff against whom a claim or counterclaim is asserted may bring in a third party under this rule to the same extent as a defendant.

(C) Exception; Small Claims. The provisions of this rule do not apply to actions in the small claims division of the district court.