Friday, December 27, 2013

Rios v. Davis case brief

Rios v. Davis case brief summary
373 S.W.2d 386 (Tex. Ct. Civ. App. 1963)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant injured party sought review of the judgment of the trial court (Texas), which sustained appellee motorist's plea of res judicata and collateral estoppel in an action involving an automobile accident. Appellant argued that the trial court erred in sustaining appellee's plea of res judicata where the finding as of appellant's contributory negligence was immaterial as the judgment in the prior case was in favor of appellant.

CASE FACTS
A truck driver, appellee motorist, and appellant injured party were involved in an automobile accident. The truck owner brought an action against appellee for damages sustained in the accident. Appellee joined appellant as a third party defendant and sought recovery against him for damages to appellee's truck. The jury found that both appellant and appellee were negligent. Judgment was entered denying the truck owner any recovery against appellee and denying appellee any recovery against appellant. Thereafter, appellant brought an action against appellee for injuries sustained in the accident. Appellee pled res judicata and collateral estoppel. The trial court sustained the plea. On appeal, appellant contended that the trial court erred in sustaining appellee's plea based on the finding of appellant's negligence because the judgment entered was in favor of appellant.

DISCUSSION

  • The court reversed the trial court's judgment. 
  • The court held that the right of appeal was from a judgment and not from a finding; thus, where the finding that appellant was negligent was not essential or material to the judgment and the judgment was in appellant's favor, the finding was not res judicata.
CONCLUSION
The court reversed the judgment of the trial court sustaining appellee motorist's plea of res judicata and collateral estoppel against appellant injured party in appellant's action for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. The finding that appellant was negligent in a prior case was not material to the prior judgment, which was in appellant's favor; thus, res judicata did not bar appellant's action.


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