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Counterclaims, Countersuits

Being served with a lawsuit can be a jarring experience. The initial petition will often have big requests for these like “damages in excess of $25,000” “damages in excess of $75,000,” or even punitive damages or attorney fees. Without having any prior experience or knowledge of legal verbiage, the Petition can also be very confusing.

As any good attorney would advise, one of the first things to do is to consider filing a Motion to Dismiss to test the sufficiency of the allegations in the Petition. For practical and strategic purposes, moreover, it is also important to explore whether a counterclaim is possible. A counterclaim is when a Defendant/Respondent sues back against the Plaintiff/Petitioner.

In some circumstances, a counterclaim is required. Generally, Missouri Rule 55.32(a) requires that a counterclaim be filed if the claim arises out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the initial petition and does not require third parties who are outside of the Court’s jurisdiction. These types of counterclaims are compulsory counterclaims. On the other hand, a permissive counterclaim is a claim which does not arise out of the same transaction or occurrence as the initial petition, but which a Court may hear in the same matter in the interests of judicial economy. Be aware, though, that a court may sever a permissive counterclaim from an initial petition and have them heard independently if it would be more efficient.

Contact us with questions.