Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(g) provides that a pleading may state as a cross-claim any claim by one party against a co-party 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 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.
In a suit related to an automobile accident, the magistrate denied plaintiff passengers' motion to name plaintiff driver and his insurer as additional defendants, but found that plaintiff passengers were permitted to file a cross-claim against plaintiff driver and an amended complaint against his insurer. Plaintiff passengers argued that the magistrate erred in finding that a cross-claim was the proper procedural mechanism to use to assert a claim against plaintiff driver.
Did the Court properly require a cross-claim against the driver and an amended complaint against his insurer?
Analyzing the applicable procedural rule, along with controlling caselaw, the court agreed with the magistrate, holding a cross-claim was the appropriate method for asserting an action against a co-party arising out of the same occurrence as the original claim. In so holding, the court rejected caselaw from another jurisdiction limiting cross-claims to situations in which a defendant had filed a counter claim. The court then upheld the magistrate's application of a multi-factor test in denying plaintiff passengers' attempt to amend the complaint because plaintiff passengers' motivation for the amendment was to defeat federal jurisdiction.