Brief Fact Summary. A man and wife filed suit against a railroad after they were injured when their automobile collided with a train. After the wife prevailed in her claim, but the husband failed in his, the husband re-filed suit against the railroad alleging an alternate version of liability.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Issue preclusion, which allows the judgment in the prior action to operate as an estoppel as to those facts or questions actually litigated and determined in the prior action, only applies if the moving party can show that the specific factual issue in question was actually adjudicated on the merits in the prior suit.
Facts. The Plaintiffs, Jessie Parks and Bertha Parks (Plaintiffs), were injured when a car driven by Jessie in which Bertha was a passenger, collided with a Defendant, Illinois Central Gulf Railroad (Defendant) train. Bertha sought compensation for her injuries and Jessie sought damages for loss of Bertha’s services and consortium. Bertha recovered $30,000 on her claim. Judgment was rendered for Defendant on Jessie’s claim. Jessie then sued Defendant for his own injuries. The trial court held that Jessie’s claim was not barred by claim preclusion and that the prior action did not preclude Jessie on the issue of contributory negligence. Defendant took an interlocutory appeal.
Issue. This case concerns a court’s assessment of when an issue has been actually litigated and determined for purposes of determining whether to apply issue preclusive effect to a previous court’s judgment.