Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Collateral Estoppel - The doctrine, its purpose, and its elements when invoked as a defense

    

LAWYER LINGO: What is collateral estoppel?
 
Collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, prevents the relitigation of identical issues of fact or law that were actually litigated and essential to the final judgment in a prior suit. Texas Dep't of Public Safety v. Petta, 44 S.W.3d 575, 579 (Tex. 2001); Barr, 837 S.W.2d at 628.
 
POLICY RATIONALE
 
The doctrine is designed to promote judicial efficiency, protect parties from multiple lawsuits, and prevent inconsistent judgments by preventing any relitigation of an ultimate issue of fact. Petta, 44 S.W.3d at 579; Sysco Food Servs., 890 S.W.2d at 801.
 
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL AS A DEFENSE  
   
A party seeking to assert the bar of collateral estoppel must establish that (1) the facts sought to be litigated in the second action were fully and fairly litigated in the first action; (2) those facts were essential to the judgment in the first action; and (3) the parties were cast as adversaries in the first action. John G. & Marie Stella Kenedy Mem'l Found. v. Dewhurst, 90 S.W.3d 268, 288 (Tex. 2002); Indem. Ins. Co. v. City of Garland, 258 S.W.3d 262, 271 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2008, no pet.).
 

THE ISSUE OF IDENTITY OF PARITES, PRIVITY
   
Strict mutuality of parties is no longer required. Petta, 44 S.W.3d at 579; Richards v. Comm'n for Lawyer Discipline, 35 S.W.3d 243, 249 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2000, no pet.). It is only necessary that the party against whom collateral estoppel is being asserted was a party or in privity with a party in the first action. Eagle Props., Ltd. v. Scharbauer, 807 S.W.2d 714, 721 (Tex. 1990).
 

PRIVITY
 
“People can be in privity in at least three ways: (1) they can control an action even if they are not parties to it; (2) their interests can be represented by a party to the action; or (3) they can be successors in interest, deriving their claims through a party to the prior action.” Amstadt v. U.S. Brass Corp., 919 S.W.2d 644, 653 (Tex. 1996); see also State Farm Lloyds v. C.M.W., 53 S.W.3d 877, 886 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2001, pet. denied).
 
SOURCE: DALLAS COURT OF APPEALS - 05-10-00410-CV - 1/8/12 

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