Washington Case Law Update: Assert Your Counterclaims in a Timely Manner or Forfeit Them Forever

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Washington Case Law Update: Assert Your Counterclaims in a Timely Manner or Forfeit Them Forever

From the desk of Kyle D. Riley: Under Washington law, if the defendant fails to plead a compulsory counterclaim in the original suit, the defendant will be prohibited from asserting the compulsory counterclaim in a later suit. Could this rule prevent a defendant in a motor vehicle accident from later bringing a lawsuit against the plaintiff for personal injuries arising from the same accident? Read on to find out.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a car accident, the Washington Court of Appeals held that when a defendant has a claim against the plaintiff which arises out of the same “transaction or occurrence” as the plaintiff’s claim and is logically related to the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant’s claim is a compulsory counterclaim and must be asserted in the original lawsuit. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of asserting any potential counterclaim in the original lawsuit at the risk of forfeiting the counterclaim in future litigation.

Chukri v. Stalfort, No. 75590-1-I, Washington Court of Appeals Div. I (October 16, 2017)

Adam Chukri (“Chukri”) and Jason Stalfort (“Stalfort”) were involved in a motor vehicle collision. Both parties claimed that the other party was at fault, and each claimed injuries arising from the lawsuit. Stalfort filed suit against Chukri, alleging personal injuries. Chukri’s insurance company provided him with legal representation for defense against Stalfort’s suit. Defense counsel sent Chukri a letter informing him of his rights as an insured. The letter also stated, “[i]f you intend to pursue a claim (or make a counterclaim or crossclaim), please contact your attorney immediately since strict time limitations may apply to such actions for damages.” Chukri did not contact a separate lawyer or assert any counterclaims against Stalfort. Following negotiations, the parties reached a...

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