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Fed. R. Civ. 13(a) relates to compulsory counterclaims and clearly requires a party to state as a counterclaim any claim which at the time of filing his answer in the case he had against the opposing party if such claim arose out of the transaction or occurrence that was the subject matter of the original claim against the party.
The defendant’s wife filed a suit for maintenance; the defendant filed his answer with a cross-complaint seeking an absolute divorce upon the ground of adultery, naming the plaintiff as correspondent. In his answer to the cross-complaint, the plaintiff contented himself with denying the acts of adultery with which he was charged. Subsequently, plaintiff brought suit, alleging that he was libeled and slandered by the matters set up by the defendant in the cross-complaint. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that the plaintiff failed to assert a claim in his answer to the cross-complaint in the maintenance suit, citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(a) and insisting that plaintiff was obliged under the rule to assert the claim as a counterclaim in response to defendant’s cross-complaint.
Under the circumstances, was the plaintiff obliged under Rule 13(a) to assert his claim as a counterclaim in response to defendant’s cross-complaint, thereby necessitating the grant of defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s suit?
The court held that Rule 13(a) required the plaintiff in the maintenance suit to state as a counterclaim any claim that he had against defendant that arose out of the transaction or occurrence that was the subject matter of defendant’s cross-complaint in the maintenance suit. After a thorough analysis of the meaning of transaction and occurrence for the purposes of Rule 13(a), the court concluded that the defamatory language of which plaintiff complained constituted no portion of the facts or circumstances alleged and relied on by defendant in his cross-complaint filed in his wife’s maintenance suit. There was no common point between the causes of action. Sustaining defendant’s motion to dismiss would be in effect to require plaintiff to admit that there was a transaction or occurrence within the meaning of the rule, and plaintiff specifically denied the acts of adultery with which he was charged.