Literally "a matter judged", res judicata is the principle that a matter may not, generally, be relitigated once it has been judged on the merits.
Res judicata encompasses limits on both the claims and the issues that may be raised in subsequent proceedings:
- Claim preclusion is the principle once a cause of action has been litigated, it may not be relitigated.
- Bar: A losing plaintiff is barred from re-suing a winning defendant on the same cause of action. (Scenario: Plaintiff P unsuccessfully sues Defendant D on Cause of action C. P may not try for better luck by initiating a new lawsuit against D on C.)
- Merger: A winning plaintiff may not re-sue a losing defendant. (Scenario: P successfully sues D on C. P may not again sue D on C to try to recover more damages.)
- Issue preclusion (Collateral estoppel): Once an issue of fact has been determined in a proceeding between two parties, the parties may not relitigate that issue even in a proceeding on a different cause of action. (Scenario: P sues D on C. P sues D on C1. Element E, which was determined in the first trial, is common to C and C1. At the second trial, P and D cannot attempt to get a different disposition of E.)
- Exceptions to res judicata
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
Latin for a legal issue that has been finally decided by a court, between the same parties, and cannot be ruled on again. For example, if a court rules that John is the father of Betty's child, John cannot raise the issue again in another court. (He could appeal the court's ruling to a higher court, but he could not raise the paternity issue again in another lawsuit.) Sometimes called res adjudicata. (See also: collateral estoppel
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:23 pm