Saturday, December 28, 2013

Williams v. Robinson case brief

Williams v. Robinson case brief summary
1 F.R.D. 211 (1940)

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss an action brought by plaintiff against defendant alleging that he was libeled by defendant in a cross-complaint in a separate maintenance action brought by defendant's wife. In the cross-complaint, defendant sought an absolute divorce on the grounds of adultery and charged that plaintiff was guilty of adultery with defendant's wife. Plaintiff denied the acts of adultery of which he was charged.

Defendant contended that 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.


  • 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.

The court overruled defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint.

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