Civil Rule 13 – Counterclaims and CrossclaimA defendant can bring a counterclaim or crossclaim against a pedestrian plaintiff under Civil Rule 13 in a personal injury litigation case.

What is a Counterclaim and Crossclaim?

A counterclaim is claim for relief against an opposing party after an original claim has been made.  (Blacks Law Dictionary).

For instance, in a scenario where a pedestrian was hit by motor vehicle and a week after the accident the pedestrian decides to destroy the driver’s mailbox, then the driver could bring a counterclaim for property damages against the pedestrian.

However, there are certain counterclaims that are disallowed from being heard in the same cause of action.  A counterclaim for a contract claim is not to be pleaded in a tort cause of action.  So, if the driver and the pedestrian for our example had a pre-existing contract that the pedestrian had broken, then the driver would have to bring a separate cause of action for the breach of the contract and would not be able to counterclaim in the personal injury (tort) action. (Glomis v Vlachos, 34 Wn.2d 627(1949)

A crossclaim is a claim asserted between codefendants or coplaintiffs in a case that relates to the subject of the original claim or counterclaim.  (Blacks Law Dictionary)

For example, the pedestrian sues a driver of a car and the owner of a car after being injured.  The owner of the car could bring a cross claim against the defendant driver as the party who was responsible for the negligent act.

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Superior Court Civil Rule: Counterclaim and Crossclaim

(a)  Compulsory counterclaims.  A pleading shall state as a counterclaim any claim which at the time of serving the pleading the pleader has against any opposing party, if it arises out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party’s claim and does not require for its adjudication the presence of third parties of whom the court cannot acquire jurisdiction. But the pleader need not state the claim if (1) at the time the action was commenced the claim was the subject of another pending action, or (2) the opposing party brought suit upon the pleader’s claim by attachment or other process by which the court did not acquire jurisdiction to render a personal judgment on that claim, and the pleader is not stating any counterclaim under this rule.

(b)  Permissive counterclaims.  A pleading may state as a counterclaim any claim against an opposing party not arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party’s claim.

(c)  Counterclaim exceeding opposing claim.  A counterclaim may or may not diminish or defeat the recovery sought by the opposing party. It may claim relief exceeding in amount or different in kind from that sought in the pleading of the opposing party.

(d)  Counterclaim against the state.  These rules shall not be construed to enlarge beyond the limits now fixed by law the right to assert counterclaims, or to claim credits against the State or an officer or agency thereof.

(e)  Counterclaim maturing or acquired after pleading.  A claim which either matured or was acquired by the pleader after serving the pleading may, with the permission of the court, be presented as a counterclaim by supplemental pleading.

(f)  Omitted counterclaim.  When a pleader fails to set up a counterclaim through oversight, inadvertence, or excusable neglect, or when justice requires, the pleader may by leave of court set up the counterclaim by amendment.

(g)  Cross claim against coparty.  A pleading may state as a cross claim any claim by one party against a coparty arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter either of the original action or of a counterclaim therein or relating to any property that is the subject matter of the original action. Such cross claim may include a claim that the party against whom it is asserted is or may be liable to the cross claimant for all or part of a claim asserted in the action against the cross claimant.

(h)  Joinder of additional parties.  Persons other than those made parties to the original action may be made parties to a counterclaim or cross claim in accordance with the provisions of rules 19 and 20.

(i)  Separate trials; separate judgment.  If the court orders separate trials as provided in rule 42(b), judgment on a counterclaim or cross claim may be rendered in accordance with the terms of rule 54(b), even if the claims of the opposing party have been dismissed or otherwise disposed of.

(j)  Setoff against assignee.  The defendant in a civil action upon a contract express or implied, other than upon a negotiable promissory note or bill of exchange, negotiated in good faith and without notice before due, which has been assigned to the plaintiff, may set off a demand of a like nature existing against the person to whom the defendant was originally liable, or any assignee prior to the plaintiff, of such contract, provided such demand existed at the time of the assignment thereof, and belonging to the defendant in good faith, before notice of such assignment, and was such a demand as might have been set off against such person to whom the defendant was originally liable, or such assignee while the contract belonged to the defendant.

(k)  Other setoff rules.  [Reserved. See RCW 4.32.120 through 4.32.150 and RCW 4.56.050 through 4.56.075.]

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