Introduction to Claim Preclusion: Study Questions

1. Keep in mind that Field and Kaplan use the term "res judicata" to apply to any preclusive effect of a judgment, whether it is claim or issue preclusion. But many courts use the term "res judicata" to refer to claim preclusion alone. This may be confusing, but is a confusion you will have to get used to, since the meaning of the term is not agreed upon within the legal community as a whole.

2. What's the difference between claim preclusion and issue preclusion?

3. What are the benefits of claim preclusion? The costs?

4.  How far does a case have to proceed before it will have claim preclusive effect? Issue preclusive effect? Does the case have to have been appealed for it to have claim or issue preclusive effect?

Williamson v. Columbia Gas

[This is a difficult case, with lots going on in it.]

5.  Why doesn't it matter that the suit having claim preclusive effect ("Suit 2") was brought after the suit claim precluded ("Suit 1")?

6. Had the stipulation concerning the accrual of the cause of action been made in Suit 1, it would probably not have barred the action on statute of limitations grounds. Why is that so? Given it is so, isn't it unfair to bar Suit 1 on the basis of the fact that Suit 2 came to a final judgment on statute of limitations grounds?

7. What, in the end, is the criterion used by the court for determining whether a subsequent action is barred by claim preclusion? Why is the term "cause of action" unhelpful to determine where claim preclusion exists? Shouldn't the fact that different statutes are at issue in Suit 1 and Suit 2 mean that Suit 2 has no claim preclusive effect on Suit 1?

8. Why is it that Williamson will be able to bring Suit 2 in another jurisdiction without it being barred? Do you think he will be able to bring Suit 1 in another jurisdiction as well?
Questions on Claim Preclusion

9. Let's say that your landlord sets up a rendering plant next to your apartment. You move out and sue for constructive eviction. You lose, because the smells don't reach the point that they constructively evict you from the apartment. Can you sue immediately afterward for nuisance? Let's say you live in the apartment for another year. Can you sue for nuisance now?

10. P sues D for breach of contract in New York state court. P loses on statute of frauds grounds. Subsequently P sues D in in diversity federal court for quantuum meruit. Claim precluded or not?