Res Judicata and 4 Requirements that Must be Demonstrated
A recent case discusses the doctrine of res judicata after the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice based on this doctrine.
“The doctrine of res judicata provides that a judgment on the merits in an earlier suit bars a later suit on the same cause of action between the same parties or others in privity with those parties.” Res judicata bars a subsequent lawsuit when the following identities exist in both the original lawsuit and the subsequent lawsuit: “(1) identity of the thing being sued for; (2) identity of the cause of action; (3) identity of the parties; and (4) identity of the quality or capacity of the persons for or against whom that claim is made.”
Medicability, LLC v. Blue Hill Buffalo Consulting, LLC, 47 Fla.L.Weekly D2528a (Fla. 2d DCA 2022).
All four of these requirements must be met for res judicata to apply. Id.
(A trial court’s order that dismisses a complaint with prejudice is subject to a de novo standard of review. Medicability, supra. The allegations in the complaint are to be accepted as true and reasonable inferences from those allegations are to are interpreted in the plaintiff’s favor. Id.)
In this case, the plaintiff filed a 2020 complaint against the defendant. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint arguing a different party was the correct party in interest, i.e., the plaintiff had no standing. The trial court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice. The plaintiff then filed a new lawsuit against the same defendant. However, the plaintiff’s suit was prefaced on it being an assignee of the real party in interest. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice based on res judicata and the trial court agreed. The appellate court reversed based on the fourth requirement in demonstrating res judicata: “identity of the quality or capacity of the persons for or against whom that claim is made.”
The appellate court found this requirement was NOT established to warrant a dismissal based on res judicata:
Here, there is no identity of capacity between the plaintiff in the first lawsuit and the plaintiff in the second lawsuit. In the 2020 lawsuit, [plaintiff] sued [defendant] on its own behalf, seeking its own damages for [defendant’s] alleged negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, violation of FDUTPA, fraudulent inducement, and conversion. In the subsequent 2021 lawsuit, [plaintiff] sued on behalf of Strategic Solutions — a party to the contract with [defendant] and assignor of its rights under that contract to [plaintiff] — for damages that Strategic Solutions had suffered as a result of [defendant’s] alleged breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and violation of FDUTPA.
Medicability, LLC, supra.
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