Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Rios (Plaintiff), brought a negligence suit against the Defendant, Davis (Defendant), for personal injuries that he suffered as a result of a car accident in which both parties were involved. The Defendant claimed the Plaintiff was contributorily negligent and that collateral estoppel and res judicata precluded the Plaintiff from bringing suit because of a prior action.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. It is the judgment and not the conclusions of fact filed by a trial court that constitutes estoppel. A finding of fact by a jury or court, which does not become the basis or one of the grounds of the final judgment, is not conclusive against either party to the suit.
Issue. Whether the District Court erred in sustaining the Defendant’s plea of res judicata.
Held. Yes. The right of appeal is from a judgment and not a finding. Judgment reversed and remanded.
Discussion. The Plaintiff contended that the Defendant’s plea of res judicata should have been denied because in the prior case, judgment had been awarded in favor of the Plaintiff. In the prior case, the Plaintiff’s negligence was immaterial to the final holding in the case. Because the Plaintiff’s negligence was material to this case, res judicata did not preclude him from going forward with it.