Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a joinder focuses on the scope of the civil action and how many claims can be asserted for a single lawsuit. Under Rule 18(a) a joinder of claims is considered a permissive joinder. The rule reads as follows; “A party asserting a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.”
There are two types of counterclaims. The first is a compulsory counterclaim, which is governed by Rule 13(a). The rule states that “a pleading must state as a counterclaim any claim that- at the time of its service- the pleader has against an opposing party if the claim: arises out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party’s claim and does not require adding another party over whom the court cannot acquire jurisdiction. The pleader need not state the claim if when the action was commenced the claim was the subject of another pending action, or the opposing party sued on its claim by attachment or other process that did not establish personal jurisdiction over the pleader on that claim, and the pleader does not assert any counterclaim under the rule.” The second type of counterclaim is a permissive counterclaim, which is governed by Rule 13(b). The rule states “A pleading may state as a counterclaim against an opposing party any claim that is not compulsory.”
The difference between the two types of counterclaims is that with a compulsory counterclaim the claim must arise within the same subject matter when filed against an opposing party. With permissive counterclaim, it may state any claim that is not compulsory, relating to the notion of joinder of claims in which permissive joinder can join as many claims as it has against an opposing party. Most counterclaims are permissive, and do not arise out of the same transaction or occurrence as does compulsory counterclaim. Both compulsory counterclaim and permissive counterclaim are not considered defenses.
Thanks to the top-rated personal injury lawyers of Eglet Adams, for their insight on counterclaims in civil actions.