Friday, July 15, 2016

The doctrine of collateral estoppel

Practice point:  The doctrine, which is a narrower kind of res judicata, precludes a party from relitigating in a subsequent action or proceeding an issue clearly raised in a prior action or proceeding and decided against that party or those in privity, regardless of whether the courts or causes of action are the same.  Collateral estoppel is implicted when four conditions are fulfilled: (1) the issues in both proceedings are identical; (2) the issue in the prior proceeding was actually litigated and decided; (3) there was a full and fair opportunity to litigate in the prior proceeding; and (4) the issue previously litigated was necessary to support a valid and final judgment on the merits.  The party nvoking collateral estoppel has the burden to show the identity of the issues, while the party trying to avoid application of the doctrine must establish the lack of a full and fair opportunity to litigate.

Student note:  Where a federal court declines to exercise jurisdiction over a plaintiff's state law claims, collateral estoppel operates as a bar, provided that the federal court decided issues identical to those raised by the plaintiff's state claims.

Case:  Clifford v. County of Rockland, NY Slip Op 05112 (2d Dep't June 29, 2016)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue: A fall in a City-owned garden.