Brief Fact Summary.
Following the death of his wife, Plaintiff sued all involved for medical malpractice. Additionally, Plaintiff sued one the Defendants for its failure to preserve his wife’s X-rays for five years, as required by state law.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Under the “same evidence” and “same transaction” tests, a new claim is not barred by res judicata if it does not involve the same facts or arise out of the same transaction as a previous claim.
The doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion, bars claims when (1) the prior judgment was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) the decision was a final judgment on the merits, and (3) the same cause of action and the same parties or their privies were involved in both cases.View Full Point of Law
After the death of his wife, Rodgers (Plaintiff) sued his wife’s obstetricians, radiologists, and St. Mary’s Hospital (Defendants) for medical malpractice. Separately, Plaintiff sued the hospital for its failure to preserve his wife’s X-rays for five years, as required by state law.
When a plaintiff brings a second claim against a party, is the second claim barred by res judicata if it does not involve the same facts or arise out of the same transaction as the first claim?
No, the claim is not barred by res judicata. Affirmed.
The Court concluded that the Plaintiff’s second lawsuit was not barred by res judicata because it fails both the “same evidence” test and the “same transaction” test. The second lawsuit was a claim for loss of evidence, while the first lawsuit was a medical malpractice claim. The same evidence would not be used in both cases, and the claims did not arise out of the same transaction.