The doctrine of res judicata bars respondents from re-litigating a case that has already been adjudicated. Res judicata is the Latin term for "a matter already judged." It means that if there has been a final judgment upon a particular case, then a plaintiff cannot initiate another action on the same defendant where a) the claim is based on the same transaction that was at issue in the initial action; b) the plaintiff seeks a different remedy, or further remedy, than was obtained in the initial action; and c) the claim is of such nature as could have been joined in the first action. This legal concept arose to avoid unnecessary waste of resources in the court system. Res judicata also prevents future judgments from contradicting earlier ones and prevents plaintiffs from recovering damages from defendants twice for the same injury. This was the doctrine applied by the California Court of Appeal in the Estate of Patricia Margaret Redfield (193 Cal. App. 4th 1526 (2011)) to preserve the effect of the trial court's initial judgment, thereby barring the trial court from re-opening the final judgment that approved the settlement for the purpose of re-characterizing the money that was transferred to a family member prior to the decedent's death.
Stay tuned for more on this topic on our subsequent blog.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.