Legal Memorandum: Doctrine of Res Judicata in IA and MI

Issue: Does res judicata bar the State of Illinois from bringing a paternity action against a party when the State’s earlier paternity petition was dismissed with prejudice but when the new petition is brought at the request of the State of Michigan?

Area of Law: Family Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Res Judicata; Paternity action; Privity
Jurisdiction: Illinois, Michigan
Cited Cases: 421 N.E.2d 278; 602 N.E.2d 820; 578 N.E.2d 310; 78 Mich. App. 218; 509 Pa. 588; 291 Mich. App. 303; 522 U.S. 222; 191 Mich. App. 151; 554 N.W.2d 17; 627 F.2d 996; 116 Wis. 2d 150; 73 Mich. App. 421; 259 N.W.2d 563
Cited Statutes: Section 303 of the UIFSA; Mich. Ct. R § 2.504(B)(3); Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 722.714; Michigan's Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 619.1171, et seq.; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 619.1172; 42 U.S.C. § 666(a)(11)
Date: 01/01/2015

“Under the doctrine of res judicata, a final judgment on the merits will bar an identical cause of action between the same parties or their privies.  . . . Under Supreme Court Rule 273, an involuntary dismissal of an action operates as an adjudication upon the merits. (134 Ill. 2d R. 273.).”  DPA v. Liesman, 578 N.E.2d 310, 311, 218 Ill. App. 3d 437, 439 (1991).  So for purposes of res judicata, a dismissal should be interpreted as a decision of non parentage to the extent that the parties are the same.  See, e.g., Morris v. Union Oil Co. of California, 421 N.E.2d 278, 284 (1981), 96 Ill. App. 3d 148, 156 (1981); Scott Wetzel Services v. Regard, 648 N.E.2d 1020, 1024, 271 Ill. App. 3d 478, 482 (1995).

In Liesman, the court held that the minor child was not in privity with the State—a child’s interests are not identical to the State’s interests in an adjudication of paternity.  The court explained that the State’s “interests lie in reimbursement of sums provided for the child’s support; the child’s interests encompass rights to all the monetary support to which he is entitled as well as the physical, mental, and emotional support of both parents.”  Liesman, 578 N.E.2d at 312, 218 Ill. App. 3d at 441. 

“‘Privity is a word which expresses the idea that as to certain matters and in certain circumstances persons who are not parties to an action but who are connected […]

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