law-res judicata | collateral estoppel | direct and collateral attack on prior court judgment |
Res judicata is an affirmative defense. Tex. R. Civ. P. 94. he party claiming the defense must prove: (1) the
claims asserted in this case arise out of the same subject matter of the previous suit, (2) the claims asserted
in this suit were litigated or could have been litigated through the exercise of due diligence in the previous
suit, (3) there is a final judgment in the prior lawsuit. Barr v. Resolution Trust Corp., 837 S.W.2d 627, 631
(Tex. 1992). We take the transactional approach to res judicata. Id. Under that approach, the subject
matter of a suit is based on the factual matter that make up the gist of the complaint. Id. at 630. Any claim
that arises out of those facts should be litigated in the same lawsuit. Id.
RES JUDICATA DOCTRINE
Res judicata, also known as claim preclusion, prevents the relitigation of a finally- adjudicated claim and
related matters that, with the use of diligence, should have been litigated in a prior suit. See State & County
Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Miller, 52 S.W.3d 693, 696 (Tex. 2001); Barr v. Resolution Trust Corp., 837 S.W.2d 627,
628 (Tex. 1992). Texas follows the transactional approach to res judicata. Miller, 52 S.W.3d at 696; Barr,
837 S.W.2d at 630-31. The transactional approach mandates that a defendant bring as a counterclaim any
claim arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party's suit. See
Miller, 52 S.W.3d at 696; Barr, 837 S.W.2d at 630; see also Ingersoll-Rand Co. v. Valero Energy Corp., 997
S.W.2d 203, 208-10 (Tex. 1999) (res judicata bars assertion of claims that were compulsory counterclaims in
an earlier suit).
According to Rule 97(a) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a counterclaim is compulsory if: (1) it is within
the jurisdiction of the court; (2) it is not at the time of the filing of the answer the subject of a pending action;
(3) the claim is mature and owned by the defendant at the time of filing the answer; (4) it arose out of the
same transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party's claim; (5) it is against the
opposing party in the same capacity; and (6) it does not require the presence of third parties over whom the
court cannot acquire jurisdiction. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 97(a); see also Ray Ferguson Interests, Inc. v. Harris
County Sports & Convention Corp., 169 S.W.3d 18, 26 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, no pet.) (quoting
Ingersoll-Rand Co., 997 S.W.2d at 207). Appellate courts apply a “logical relationship” test to determine
whether counterclaims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence under Rule 97(a). See Moore v. First
Fin. Resolution Enters., Inc., 277 S.W.3d 510, 516 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.) (citing Jack H. Brown &
Co. v. Nw. Sign Co., 718 S.W.2d 397, 400 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1986, writ ref'd n.r.e.)). The “logical
relationship” test is met when the same facts, which may or may not be disputed, are “significant and
logically relevant to both claims.” Id.
ELEMENTS OF RES JUDICATA DEFENE
To establish the defense of res judicata, a party must show (1) a prior final judgment on the merits by a court
of competent jurisdiction, (2) identity of parties or those in privity with them, and (3) a second action based
on the same claims that were raised or could have been raised in the first action. Amstadt v. U.S. Brass
Corp., 919 S.W.2d 644, 652 (Tex.1996). Res judicata prevents the relitigation of a claim or cause of action
that has either been finally adjudicated or, with the use of diligence, should have been litigated in the earlier
suit. See Barr v. Resolution Trust Corp., 837 S.W.2d 627, 628 (Tex.1992). Texas uses the "transactional"
approach to determine what claims should have been litigated in an earlier suit. Id. at 631. Any cause of
action that arises out of the same facts should, if practicable, be litigated in the same lawsuit. Id. at 630.
RES JUDICATA CASE LAW FROM HOUSTON COURTS OF APPEALS
De Acetis v. Whitley (Tex.App.- Houston [14th.] Mar. 25, 2010)(Mirabal)
(real estate dispute stemming from divorce, enforcement of property division by contempt, res judicata
based on divorce proceeding)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by Justice Mirabal
Before Justices Mirabal, Boyce and Sullivan
14-08-00429-CV Dennis C. De Acetis v. Marianne Whitley, Michael W. DeAcetis, James M. Gary, Kimberly C.
Gary, and Martha C. Fonke
Appeal from 239th District Court of Brazoria County
Trial Court Judge: Patrick Edward Sebesta
McCarroll v. My Sentinel, LLC (pdf) (Tex.App. - Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 10, 2009)(Hedges)
(personal liability imposed on officers and directors based on forfeiture of corporate charter,
res judicata not applicable)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by Chief Justice Hedges
Before Chief Justice Hedges, Justices Seymore and Sullivan
14-08-01171-CV Steven and Robbie McCarroll v. My Sentinel, LLC.,
Appeal from 405th District Court of Galveston County
Trial Court Judge: Wayne J. Mallia
Res judicata precludes relitigation of claims that have been finally adjudicated, or that
arise out of the same subject matter and could have been litigated in a prior action.
Amstadt v. U.S. Brass Corp., 919 S.W.2d 644, 654 (Tex. 1996).
Where a party takes a voluntary nonsuit of its claims, res judicata does not attach. See Bell v. Moores, 832 S.
W.2d 749, 755 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1992, writ denied)
ELEMENTS OF RES JUDICATA DEFENSE: Res judicata requires proof of the following elements: (1) a prior
final judgment on the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) identity of parties or those in privity with
them; and (3) a second action based on the same claims as were raised or could have been raised in the
first action. Espeche v. Ritzell, 123 S.W.3d 657, 665 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2003, pet. denied).
Issue preclusion, also known as collateral estoppel, precludes relitigation of particular
issues already resolved in a prior action. It requires that (1) the facts sought to be litigated in the
second action were fully and fairly litigated in the first; (2) those facts were essential to the judgment in the
first action; and (3) the party against whom the doctrine is asserted was a party, or in privity to a party, in the
first action. Sysco Food Servs., Inc. v. Trapnell, 890 S.W.2d 796, 801-02 (Tex. 1994).
Ryals v. Ogden (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 25, 2009) (Boyce)
(temporary injunction appeal, multiple proceedings in different courts, unclean hands doctrine inapplicable,
res judicata does not apply, other court did not have jurisdiction, collateral attack on prior judgment).
AFFIRMED: Opinion by Justice Boyce
Before Justices Anderson, Frost and Boyce
14-07-01008-CV Kenneth Ryals, Managing Trustee of East Texas Investment Trust v. Lisa Ogden,
Steven Gayle and Wayne Westbrook
Appeal from 55th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court Judge: Judge (now Justice) Jeffrey V. Brown
Koval v. Kirkland Contractors, Inc. (Tex.App,- Houston [1st Dist.] Feb. 15, 2008)(Davie Wilson)
(res judicata, attorney's fees)
AFFIRM TC JUDGMENT: Opinion by Justice Davie Wilson (ret.)
Before Judge Wilson, Justices Alcala and Hanks
01-06-00067-CV Linda Koval v. Henry Kirkland Contractors, Inc.
Appeal from Probate Court No 3 of Harris County (Judge Hon. Rory R. Olsen)
The Cadle Co. v. Bray, No. 01-06-00899-CV (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 24, 2008)(Alcala)
(jurisdiction, default judgment, dormant judgment, res judicata)
REVERSE TC JUDGMENT AND RENDER JUDGMENT: Opinion by Justice Alcala
Before Chief Justice Radack, Justices Alcala and Bland
The Cadle Company v. Roy H. Bray
Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No 1 of Harris County (Judge Jack Cagle)
Dow Supply Co. v. Houston Tubulars Inc. (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] May 8, 2008)(Alcala)
(res judicata bars claim)
AFFIRM TC JUDGMENT: Opinion by Justice Alcala
Before Justices Taft, Keyes and Alcala
01-06-00987-CV Dow Supply Company v. Houston Tubulars Incorporated
Appeal from 11th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Diane Bull
Choice Personnel No. Four, Inc. v. 1715 Johanna Square Ltd. (Tex.App. - Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 13, 2007)
(Alcala) (third appeal, real estate law, foreclosure, title, limitations, res judicata)
AFFIRM TC JUDGMENT: Opinion by Justice Alcala
Before Justices Taft, Alcala and Hanks
01-05-00830-CV Choice Personnel No. Four, Inc., and Choice Acquisitions No. Three, Inc. v. 1715
Johanna Square Ltd., J&B Richmore Management, L.L.C., J&B Gilmore Management L.L.C.
Appeal from 125th District Court of Harris County (Judge John Coselli)
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