Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Res judicata defense requires proof of the prior judgment in suit between the same parties or their privies

The supreme court has admonished that, “[c]ertainly in courts of law, a claimant generally cannot pursue one remedy to an unfavorable conclusion and then pursue the same remedy in another proceeding before the same or a different tribunal.” Igal v. Brightstar Info. Tech. Grp., Inc., 250 S.W.3d 78, 86 (Tex. 2008). “Res judicata bars the relitigation of claims that have been finally adjudicated or that could have been litigated in the prior action.” Id. (citing Barr v. Resolution Trust Corp., 837 S.W.2d 627, 628 (Tex.1992)).
For res judicata to apply under Texas state law, the following elements must be present: (1) a prior final judgment on the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) the same parties or those in privity with them; and (3) a second action based on the same claims as were raised or could have been raised in the first action. Citizens Ins. Co. of Am. v. Daccach, 217 S.W.3d 430, 449 (Tex. 2007). Thus, a party may not pursue a claim determined by the final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction in a prior suit as a ground of recovery in a later suit against the same parties. Tex. Water Rights Comm’n v. Crow Iron Works, 582 S.W.2d 768, 771 (Tex. 1979).
Because [party] argues that the issues here were first decided in a federal tribunal, federal law controls the determination of whether res judicata will bar the later state court proceeding. See Eagle Props., Ltd. v. Scharbauer, 807 S.W.2d 714, 718 (Tex. 1990).

Similar to Texas law, under federal law, res judicata will apply if: (1) the parties are identical in both suits; (2) the prior judgment is rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) there is a final judgment on the merits; and (4) the same cause of action is involved in both cases. Id.
SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - 01-11-00096-CV - 5/9/12
[Appellant] has not brought forth a prior final judgment on the merits of any issue that is the subject of the underlying litigation. Thus, he failed to raise a fact issue on res judicata. We need not reach [Appellee's] other arguments about why res judicata does not apply.