Use this guide to learn the rules of civil procedure applicable to a counterclaim in the New York Supreme Court. For a more detailed treatment, including local rules, please see the SmartRules New York Supreme Court Guide: Counterclaim.
A counterclaim is initiated upon service of the pleading containing it. CPLR 203(d). Counterclaims are subject to the same statute of limitations provisions found in Article 2 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. Notwithstanding the expiration of time under the statute of limitations, if a counterclaim was not time-barred at the time the original complaint was filed, it may be asserted during the pendency of that action. CPLR 203(d). A counterclaim that was time-barred at the time the original complaint was filed may nonetheless be asserted during the pendency of that action if the counterclaim arises out of the same facts and circumstances alleged in the complaint. Such counterclaims can be pursued only to the extent of the demand within the complaint. CPLR 203(d).
A counterclaim presented in an amended pleading is treated as though presented in the original pleading for statute of limitations purposes. CPLR 203(f).
A counterclaim can be filed by any defendant or person a defendant represents against any plaintiff or person a plaintiff represents, as well as additional persons alleged to be liable. CPLR 3019(a). A counterclaim may assert any claims the counterclaimant has against the plaintiff, regardless of whether those claims are related to the subject matter of plaintiff’s action. CPLR 3019(b). Where a counterclaim raises claims against a person not yet party to the action, he or she must be served with a summons and answer containing the counterclaim, whereupon he or she becomes a party to the action. CPLR 3019(d).
The time in which a counterclaim may be asserted is computed from the time when the underlying facts and circumstances became known or reasonably should have become known. CPLR 203(g). This provision does not apply to claims governed by UCC Article 2 or to medical and dental malpractice claims. CPLR 203(g); CPLR 214-a.
A reply to a counterclaim must be served within twenty (20) days of service of the pleading containing the counterclaim. CPLR 3011.
Caselaw establishes that any counterclaim may be asserted in a responsive pleading or a separate action. Unlike in federal practice, there are no compulsory counterclaims.
A counterclaim may be asserted by a third party defendant. CPLR 1008.
In an action originally brought by a trustee as plaintiff, counterclaims may only be asserted against the party beneficially interested in the plaintiff’s action, and only to the extent of the claims asserted in the plaintiff’s action. CPLR 3019(c).
All of the pleading rules applicable to complaints also apply to counterclaims. For a full treatment, please see the New York Supreme Court SmartRules Guide: Complaint.