DEFENSES: Issue Preclusion (collateral estoppel) of Res Judicata

COA, NPO, 5/28/2012

It is well settled that the doctrine of res judicata serves as a bar to repetitious lawsuits involving the same cause of action. Yeoman v. Com., Health Policy Bd., 983 S.W.2d 459 (Ky. 1998); Coomer v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 319 S.W.3d 366 (Ky. 2010). Res judicata is composed of two subparts – claim preclusion and issue preclusion. Yeoman, 983 S.W.2d 459; Coomer, 319 S.W.3d 366. In this appeal, we are concerned with the doctrine of issue preclusion. Issue preclusion, also known as collateral estoppel, generally operates to bar issues that were litigated in a previous action from being relitigated in a second action. Yeoman, 983 S.W.2d 459. The following elements are necessary for issue preclusion to operate as a bar in subsequent litigation:

First, the issue in the second case must be the same as the issue in the first case. Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 27 (1982). Second, the issue must have been actually litigated[.] Id. Third, even if an issue was actually litigated in a prior action, issue preclusion will not bar subsequent litigation unless the issue was actually decided in that action. Id. Fourth, for issue preclusion to operate as a bar, the decision on the issue in the prior action must have been necessary to the court’s judgment. Id.

Yoeman, 983 S.W.2d at 465.