Collateral Estoppel

(redirected from Persons Affected)

Collateral Estoppel

A doctrine by which an earlier decision rendered by a court in a lawsuit between parties is conclusive as to the issues or controverted points so that they cannot be relitigated in subsequent proceedings involving the same parties.

Collateral estoppel is an Affirmative Defense that must be pleaded by a defendant in civil actions. The similar affirmative defense of Res Judicata differs from collateral Estoppel in that it completely precludes the relitigation of a claim, demand, or Cause of Action, as opposed to an issue or controverted point, in a subsequent proceeding between the same parties to an earlier action.

The application of the collateral estoppel doctrine promotes the speedy administration of justice by preventing the continuous, duplicative litigation of fruitless claims when relitigation of them is unlikely to change the original decision made regarding them.


Issues or findings of fact, not conclusions of law, are subject to collateral estoppel only in certain cases. The issue against which collateral estoppel is claimed must be identical to an issue already litigated in the earlier case and must have been fully litigated at that time. In addition, the court must have actually decided the issue. The decision on the issue must have been integral in the outcome of the original lawsuit. This last requirement assures the issue was vigorously litigated so that it is fair to prevent its relitigation in a second action because there is little likeli-hood that the results will be different the second time.

If an action has been settled by the agreement of the parties, most jurisdictions will not apply collateral estoppel, since the issues have not been fairly and fully litigated.

Persons Affected

Collateral estoppel is binding only upon those parties to the first action in which a decision was made and anyone who might be regarded as in privity with those parties, such as a bailor and bailee or a principal and his or her agent. In many jurisdictions a party in a lawsuit who is not subject to the estoppel effect of a prior judgment because the party was not a party to the original action in which the judgment was rendered can, in certain instances, use that judgment to bind his or her adversary who had been a party in the former action.

A defendant who, in a second action, pleads the defenses of collateral estoppel against the plaintiff uses it defensively. In many jurisdictions this use of the doctrine is considered fair because the plaintiff has the advantage of selecting the defendant and the forum in which the case is to be decided. The decision to commence the second lawsuit is based, in part, upon the findings or issues in the first action, and, therefore, it is not unreasonable to bind the plaintiff by the issues or findings made in that case.

In contrast, a plaintiff in a subsequent lawsuit who asserts collateral estoppel against a defendant uses the doctrine offensively to buttress his or her cause of action. Fewer jurisdictions, however, permit its offensive use since the defendant against whom it would be applied has neither the choice of forum nor of adversary.


Collateral estoppel has limited applicability in cases where the issues raised in the court where the action was first heard were beyond its jurisdiction. In antitrust cases brought in federal court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over such matters, prior state court rulings concerning antitrust violations made during the course of deciding the legality of a contract will not be given collateral estoppel effect. Courts reason that the punitive and exclusive nature of the federal remedy in antitrust cases precludes collateral estoppel based upon state court decisions.In contrast, federal courts have applied collateral estoppel in patent cases to any underlying facts decided by state courts but not to facts alleged to prove the issue of patent validity or infringement.

The availability of collateral estoppel is also limited by changes in the law that take place between the original and subsequent action. Collateral estoppel will not apply if modifications in the applicable law alter the operative facts needed to obtain a favorable ruling. To do otherwise would deny an individual Equal Protection of law merely because of the luck of the person who obtained the previous ruling.

Criminal Matters

Jurisdictions differ on whether to give an estoppel effect to a criminal conviction of a party currently involved in a civil lawsuit. Traditionally, estoppel was not permitted, since the plaintiff in the civil action was not a party to the criminal proceeding. Today, a number of states give full collateral estoppel effect to a previous criminal conviction. Acquittal of a crime is not given collateral estoppel effect in a civil proceeding because the plaintiff in the civil suit was not a party to the criminal proceeding and could not offer evidence against the defendant. This rule prevented O. J. Simpson from using his acquittal of murder as a defense in the civil trials brought against him by the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman following the murder trial.

In addition, the difference between the Beyond a Reasonable Doubt standard of proof necessary for a criminal conviction and the Preponderance of Evidence standard in civil actions would make it unfair to allow the acquitted defendant to use his or her acquittal to bind the opponent in the civil matter in which the standard of proof to obtain a judgment is not as stringent.

collateral estoppel

n. the situation in which a judgment in one case prevents (estops) a party to that suit from trying to litigate the issue in another legal action. In effect, once decided, the parties are permanently bound by that ruling. (See: estoppel)

References in periodicals archive ?
Electronic auction: provision of sanatorium and spa treatment services to insured persons affected by accidents at work or occupational diseases, with diseases and consequences of spinal cord injuries
Qatar Charity managed to rehabilitate three schools, equipped them with study tools, materials and aids, and reconstructed four health centres and supply the required health equipment, which benefited 92,776 persons affected by floods that hit the Middle Shabelle region in 2013 and 2014.
In Pakistan alone there are estimated to be 450,000 persons affected from this disease.
The five persons affected with the strange virus have been told to use their own soap dish in order to save those who are not affected with the disease.
The DSWD said 21,884 families or 106,758 persons affected by Tropical Storms Vinta and Urduja in Mimaropa, Zamboanga peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao remained in evacuation centers.
During her address, Monday, at the humanitarian aid commission, the celebration of the international day for reduction of disaster, she has lauded the efforts of all the national mechanisms and relevant ministries, the national and foreign organizations and UN agencies working for the reduction of numbers of persons affected by disasters.
Badr bin Abdulrahman Al-Samhan, regional director of the Saudi National Campaign, said the humanitarian programs being carried out on a regular basis come as a result of assessments of the urgent needs of Syrian refugees and displaced persons affected by the war.
It is recommended to train the staff at places where different presentations of persons affected with leprosy are found.
But the appearance of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and the issues of internally displaced persons affected the parliament's performance," he said.
He said that Islam is the best custodian of the persons affected by social injustice.
If complaints arise, or any person requests accommodations, we do our best to address them on a case-by-case basis, respecting the privacy of the persons affected," said Jayme Blaschke, a spokesman for Texas State University.
The average expenditure per person affected actually went down slightly for mental disorders from $1,887 to $1,849 - but the number of persons affected rose 45%, from 31.

Full browser ?