Citation. 443 F.3d 922 (2006)
Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff sued Defendant in state court for being fired without a hearing. Plaintiff then sued Defendant in federal court on the grounds that Defendant fired him as retaliation.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A claim is barred under res judicata when, in the second lawsuit, the claim arises from the same transaction or operative facts giving rise to the plaintiff’s right to obtain legal relief.
Mark Manicki (Plaintiff), a police officer, witnessed a fight between two other officers. When Plaintiff refused to alter his statement about the fight, the Police Chief (Defendant) wrote a letter to the city’s Board to have Plaintiff fired. Plaintiff argued that the letter was retaliatory and sued Defendant and the Board in state court for being fired without a hearing. Plaintiff then brought a lawsuit in federal court against Defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his First Amendment rights.
Is the Plaintiff’s claim in the federal lawsuit barred by res judicata, based on the Plaintiff’s claim in the state lawsuit?
Yes, the Plaintiff’s claim is barred by res judicata. The decision of the District Court is affirmed.
The Court determined that Plaintiff’s state claim and federal claim arose from the same transaction and operative facts. The claim arguing for the hearing and the claim arguing that Defendant acted in retaliation both arose from Plaintiff’s dismissal, and were based on Defendant’s letter. In both lawsuits, Plaintiff relied on the same evidence and requested relief in the form of reinstatement to his job. The Court also rejected Plaintiff’s argument that Defendant could not invoke res judicata because Defendant did not warn Plaintiff they would use this defense in the subsequent federal lawsuit.