November 11, 2011

The Doctrine of Res Judicata bars relitigating the same issues earlier decided by another tribunal

The Doctrine of Res Judicata bars relitigating the same issues earlier decided by another tribunal
Matter of Finkel v New York City Housing Authority, 2011 NY Slip Op 07914, Appellate Division, First Department

Affirming State Supreme Court’s dismissing Finkel’s Article 78 proceeding seeking to annul a 2010 New York State Division of Human Rights' determination dismissing his complaint for lack of jurisdiction, the Appellate Division said that the complaint filed with New York State Division of Human Rights was barred under the doctrine of res judicata because they were based on the same complaints filed by Finkel in federal court in 1990 and 1991, which claims were decided by the federal court on the merits.

Addressing another issue, the timeliness of the 2010 action, the court said it disagreed with Finkel’s claim that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (the Fair Pay Act) applied to payments made pursuant to a pension structure.

The Appellate Division said that the language of the statute itself provides that "[n]othing in this Act is intended to change current law treatment of when pension distributions are considered paid," citing Public Law 111-2, §2[4]. Accordingly, said the court, "[t]he [Fair Pay] Act preserves the existing law concerning when a discriminatory pension distribution or payment occurs, i.e., upon retirement, not upon the issuance of each check."

As Finkel began receiving his retirement compensation in 1996, the Appellate Division concluded that the Fair Pay Act did not "reset" the statute of limitations for the claims related to his employer’s failure to pay Finkel back wages as ordered in a prior action, or with respect to any of the other claims.

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