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Collateral Estoppel Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Collateral Estoppel and the related topic of personal injury. For more information on collateral estoppel issues see the pages on Wikipedia.

Collateral Estoppel-Cases

2004 Rawlings v. Lopez, 267 Va. 4, 591 S.E.2d 691.

Auto accident case where driver and passengers sued Lopez in separate lawsuits. Driver’s suit was the first to be tried and jury returned verdict in favor of Lopez. Lopez then asserted res judicata and collateral estoppel as defenses. Neither defense was a bar to the action brought by the passengers. In regards to collateral estoppel, Virginia adheres to the rule of mutuality, meaning, that a litigant is prevented from invoking the preclusive force of a judgment unless he would have been bound had the prior litigation of that issue reached the opposite result. There was no mutuality here and therefore, collateral estoppel does not apply. Res judicata does not apply because there was no identity of the parties nor were they in privity.

2001 Scales v. Lewis, 261 Va. 379, 541 S.E.2d 899.

For doctrine of collateral estoppel to apply, following elements must be met: (1) parties to prior and subsequent proceedings or their privies must be identical; (2) factual issues sought to be litigated must have been litigated in prior action; (3) factual issue must have been essential to the judgment in prior proceeding; (4) prior action must have resulted in judgment that is valid, final, and against the party whom the doctrine is sought to be applied; and (5) there must also be mutuality, i.e., litigant cannot invoke collateral estoppel unless he would have been bound, had litigation of the issue reached the opposite result. In this case, subrogation action brought by insurance carrier was not bar to subsequent action by insured. In order to prove the issue or claim is precluded by former adjudication, record of prior action must be offered into evidence. The underlying action in the general district court brought by insurance carrier was simply marked as being dismissed. In that action, the insurance company alleged simply that the defendant was negligent and that his negligence was a proximate cause of the accident. It was not alleged in that case that the defendant was negligent and that his negligence was the proximate cause of the accident. The dismissal of the prior subrogation claim was not a bar to refiling of suit against same driver and others.

2000 Whitley v. Commonwealth, 260 Va. 482, 538 S.E.2d 296.

Unlike doctrine of res judicata, collateral estoppel does not turn upon issue of whether cause of action in prior proceeding is same as cause of action brought in later proceeding. Collateral estoppel precludes same parties to prior proceeding from litigating in later proceeding any issue of fact that actually was litigated and was essential to final judgment in the first proceeding. Four requirements must be met for collateral estoppel: parties must be the same, factual issue must have been actually litigated, factual issue must have been essential to judgment rendered in prior case, and prior proceeding must have resulted in valid final judgment against party to whom doctrine is sought to be applied. All four of those elements have been met in this case with respect to plaintiff’s gross negligence claim against individual defendants. Gross negligence claim against Commonwealth was not barred by doctrine of collateral estoppel since Commonwealth was not party to prior federal action alleging medical malpractice.

1995 Angstadt v. Atlantic Mut. Ins. Co., 249 Va. 444, 457 S.E.2d 86.

Declaratory judgment action wherein carrier denied coverage due to failure of insured’s employee to appear for deposition resulting in default judgment. Insurer pled collateral estoppel contending that issue of non-cooperation had been previously litigated in underlying action by entry of default judgment. Collateral estoppel not applicable in this instance. In addition, Supreme Court ruled that evidence of default judgment was not admissible since that is not relevant as to issue of non-cooperation and in addition is highly prejudicial.

1995 Glasco v. Ballard, 249 Va. 61, 452 S.E.2d 854.

Suit against deputy sheriff for assault and battery and negligence. Prior action had been filed in federal court under § 1983. Federal court ruled that sheriff’s action was accidental and therefore federal claim was barred. Plaintiff then filed in state court. Claim for intentional misconduct was deemed to be barred under doctrine of collateral estoppel which consists of the following elements: (1) parties must be the same; (2) issue must have been actually litigated; (3) issue of fact must have been essential to prior judgment; and (4) prior proceeding must have resulted in valid final judgment against party against whom doctrine is sought to be applied.

1993 Reid v. Ayscue, 246 Va. 454, 436 S.E.2d 439.

Daughter driving vehicle in which mother is passenger. Mother is killed in collision. In wrongful death action daughter is denied any recovery by jury although brother is awarded damages. In subsequent contribution action issue is raised whether negligence of daughter has been determined. Court applied doctrine of collateral estoppel which consists of: (1) identity of persons and parties; (2) identity of issue; (3) mutuality of operation of estoppel. Court held that contributory negligence had been litigated and daughter was guilty of negligence.

1991 Dual & Assocs. v. Wells, 241 Va. 542, 403 S.E.2d 354.

Collateral estoppel has preclusive effect impacting on subsequent action based on collateral and different cause of action. In subsequent action parties to first action and their privies are precluded from litigating any issue of fact actually litigated and essential to valid and final personal judgment in first action. Collateral estoppel cannot be asserted as bar by person who was stranger to prior litigation.

1990 Snead v. Bendigo, 240 Va. 399, 397 S.E.2d 849.

Doctor sued patient for unpaid bill. Patient appears and denies that he owes bill. Judgment entered because no sworn affidavit filed pursuant to Va. Code § 8.01-28. Patient subsequently files separate malpractice action against doctor. This subsequent action is not barred by res judicata or collateral estoppel. There is no contention made of res judicata bar. Doctor simply argued that action was barred by collateral estoppel since there were two different causes of action involved. Under this doctrine, parties to first cause of action and their privies are barred from relitigating any issue of fact actually litigated and essential to valid final personal judgment in first action. Requirement that an issue must be subject of actual rather than potential litigation is one of features distinguishing collateral estoppel from res judicata. In this case issue of negligence was not actually litigated, therefore no bar.

1990 Hampton Rds. San. Dist. v. City of Virginia Beach, 240 Va. 209, 396 S.E.2d 656.

Under collateral estoppel concept, parties to prior action and privies are precluded from litigating in subsequent action any factual issue that actually was litigated and was essential to valid and final personal judgment in prior action. Collateral estoppel requires mutuality.

1987 House v. Kirby, 233 Va. 197, 355 S.E.2d 303.

Collateral estoppel is preclusive effect impacting in subsequent action based upon collateral and different cause of action. In subsequent action, parties to first action and their privies are precluded from litigating any issue of fact actually litigated and essential to valid and final judgment in first action. This case involved prior suit as to insurance coverage against insurance company and subsequent action against agent for failure to obtain insurance. Collateral estoppel did not apply.

1982 Luke Constr. Co. v. Simpkins, 223 Va. 387, 291 S.E.2d 204.

Exception to mutuality requirement of collateral estoppel doctrine referenced, i.e., stranger to criminal conviction may invoke doctrine offensively in civil action against convict. Exception not applicable here.

1982 Kesler v. Fentross, 223 Va. 14, 286 S.E.2d 156.

Determination of title to property in previous trespass action collaterally estopped relitigation of this issue.

1981 Nerro v. Ferris, 222 Va. 807, 284 S.E.2d 828.

Under collateral estoppel, parties to first action or their privies are precluded from litigating any issue of fact actually litigated and essential to valid and final personal judgment in first action. Estoppel ordinarily must be mutual.

1980 Norfolk & W. Ry. v. Bailey Lumber Co., 221 Va. 638, 272 S.E.2d 217.

Plaintiff obtained judgment against both defendants as result of collision. Second plaintiff, injured in same accident, cannot offensively assert collateral estoppel since second plaintiff would not be barred if plaintiff had not prevailed. Principle of mutuality still effective in Virginia.

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Collateral Estoppel Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

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