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A claim by a defendant opposing the claim of the plaintiff and seeking some relief from the plaintiff for the defendant.

A counterclaim contains assertions that the defendant could have made by starting a lawsuit if the plaintiff had not already begun the action. It is governed by many of the same rules that regulate the claims made by a plaintiff except that it is a part of the answer that the defendant produces in response to the plaintiff's complaint. In general a counterclaim must contain facts sufficient to support the granting of relief to the defendant if the facts are proved to be true. These facts may refer to the same event that gave rise to the plaintiff's Cause of Action or they may refer to an entirely different claim that the defendant has against the plaintiff. Where there is more than one party on a side, a counterclaim may be made by any defendant against any plaintiff or plaintiffs.

According to the rules governing federal Civil Procedure, a defendant usually is required to make a counterclaim in an answer if the counterclaim arises from the same transaction or occurrence on which the plaintiff is suing. This is called a compulsory counterclaim because the claim must be made in response to the plaintiff's complaint and cannot be made later or in a separate lawsuit. There are also permissive counterclaims that may be made in the defendant's answer at a later time. A claim against the plaintiff that is based on an entirely different event is one kind of Permissive Counterclaim. For example, a man may sue a woman for money damages because of a minor injury and some property damage after their cars collided. Under the rules governing Pleading in most courts, the woman would be required to assert a demand for money damages for the same accident in her answer to the man's complaint or she would lose the right to sue on that claim. If the man also happens to be a neighbor who borrowed the woman's chain saw and never returned it, the woman could demand return of the saw as a counterclaim or she could wait and sue the man for that at some other time. She might decide to wait in order to sue in a different court or because she does not want to argue the different circumstances of both claims before the same jury.

A defendant usually cannot make a counter-claim if it is not possible to make the same claim by starting a lawsuit. For example, a lawsuit to collect on a claim cannot be started after the period of time allowed by a Statute of Limitations has run out. In certain situations, however, a defendant may assert an expired cause of action as a counterclaim. This procedure, allowed for reasons of fairness and justice, is called equitable recoupment. The court may reduce the plaintiff's money damages up to the amount of the defendant's counterclaim, but the defendant will not be allowed an affirmative recovery of money over and above the amount to which the plaintiff may be entitled.




n. a retaliatory claim by a defendant against a plaintiff in a lawsuit included in the defendant's answer and intending to off-set and/or reduce the amount of the plaintiff's original claim against the defendant. For example, Hotdog Products sues Barbecue Bill's Eatery for $40,000 for meat delivered to Bill's but not paid for, and Bill counterclaims that Hotdog owes him $20,000 for a load of bad chicken livers, so Hotdog is only entitled to $20,000. In many states the counterclaim is no longer allowed, in which case a cross-complaint, which is a separate complaint, must be filed by the defendant, but as part of the same lawsuit. On the other hand, in federal cases, if the defendant believes he/she/it has a legitimate counterclaim to reduce damages it must be alleged (stated) in the answer or it is barred from being considered. (See: answer, cross-complaint)


noun action to defeat plaintiff's deeand, assertion against the plaintiff, cause against an oppossng party, cause of action in favor of defendants, claim addanced by defendant, claim for relief by defendant, claim presented by defendant, counteraction, counterapplication, countercharge, counterdeclaration, countermotion, counterpetition, counterproposal, counterreclamation, countersuit, cross-action, cross-bill, opposing suit, rejoinder, set-off
Associated concepts: compulsory counterclaim, cross-demand, equitable counnerclaim, permissive counterclaim, set-off, sham counterrlaim
See also: answer, claim, counterargument, rebut, reply, respond, retort


a cross-claim brought by a defendant in civil proceedings that is not a defence to the claim made by the plaintiff but that asserts an independent cause of action against him. In Scotland, it is available to a defender. See SET-OFF.
References in periodicals archive ?
At a minimum, we would proceed with the case under our original counterclaim against The Sugar Association.
Often plaintiffs attorneys use the tactic in debt-collection cases: They will contact debtors who've been sued in classaction friendly jurisdictions and persuade them to file a counterclaim class action, Himmelfarb says.
Removing the patent counterclaims could also reduce the complexity of the case, according to Lindon, Utah-based SCO's motion and supporting memorandum, reducing the chances of a jury being swayed by any potential strong showing by IBM with regard to its patents.
Because of the failure to perform, "Kate Spade LLC lost at least six months of valuable time -- and consequently, an entire retail delivery season -- in launching its home collection," the counterclaim states.
Safelite will continue to vigorously defend itself and will, with equal vigilance, prosecute its counterclaims," said Safelite General Counsel Mark Smolik.
Colabella of the Supreme Court, Westchester County held that Duval's counterclaim must be dismissed because there was a lack of privity between Houlihan and Duval regarding the Stanford White representations, and for the additional reason that Duval failed to show that there was any misrepresentation at all by Houlihan.
In the counterclaim, Nie and Hull allege that SPSS Inc.
With respect to the defendant's counterclaim for $600,000 for alleged deterioration of the building, the judge ruled that summary judgment will generally be denied where there is a counterclaim arising from the same underlying transaction as is involved in the main case.
Roche's fraud counterclaim had charged IGEN with misrepresenting its intentions regarding the rights that IGEN previously had granted to another licensee, Eisai Co.
in which the lower court held for the tenant on four counterclaims, and awarded attorneys' fees to the tenant.
Technology Research Corporation ("TRC"), (NASDAQ:TRCI), today announced that the Company has filed a counterclaim in the U.