Legal Memorandum: Doctrine of Claim Preclusion

Issue: Will the doctrine of claim preclusion be applied when there is no identity of parties in earlier and present lawsuits?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Doctrine of claim preclusion; Res judicata; identity of parties
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 286 F. Supp. 2d 369; 450 F. Supp. 2d 544; 227 F. Supp. 2d 45; 746 F.2d 977; 775 F.2d 70; 34 F. Supp. 2d 923
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 28, § 36, § 36(2); Federal Practice and Procedure § 4460 & nn.17, 18
Date: 12/01/2007

It is well-settled Third Circuit law that the doctrine of claim preclusion has no application when there is no identity of parties in the earlier and present lawsuits.  Bandai Am. Inc. v. Bally Midway Mfg. Co., 775 F.2d 70, 75 (3d Cir. 1985).  “The doctrine of res judicata provides that a final decision on the merits of an action precludes the same parties from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in the prior action.”  Harold v. Barnhart, 450 F. Supp. 2d 544, 560 (E.D. Pa. 2006).  The doctrine applies only when the following elements are met:  “there has been ‘(1) a final judgment on the merits in a prior suit involving (2) the same parties or their privies and (3) a subsequent suit based on the same causes of action.'”  Household Int’l, Inc. v. Westchester Fire Ins. Co., 286 F. Supp. 2d 369 (D. Del. 2003) (quoting United States v. Athlone Indus., 746 F.2d 977, 984 (3d Cir. 1984)).  Collateral estoppel, a branch of the broader res judicata doctrine, “bars relitigation of any issue actually determined in an earlier action, generally between the same parties, although involving a different claim or cause of action.”  Sadruddin v. City of Newark, 34 F. Supp. 2d 923, 928 (D.N.J. 1999).  The court will find that res judicata does not apply to prelude litigation of a claim when “different parties were involved in the […]

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