December 21, 2020

The Doctrines of Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata bar a party relitigating the same issues involving the same defendant

Reviewing an appeal challenging Supreme Court's granting the defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court's ruling, explaining:

1. When a party's complaint arises out of the same set of circumstances as his prior CPLR Article 78 proceeding, the second action is barred on the grounds of res judicata; and

2. When a party has been afforded a full and fair opportunity to litigate an issue and loses in a CPLR Article 78 action, collateral estoppel will bar him from litigating the issue a second time.

The Appellate Division observed that both in the instant proceeding and in an earlier Article 78 proceeding, the plaintiff [Petitioner] attacked an administrator's [Defendant] decision to give him an unsatisfactory ["U"] rating and her refusal to allow him to rescind his resignation.

The court also opined that Supreme Court properly granted summary judgment to the Defendant on the merits, finding that the collective bargaining agreement relied upon by Petitioner "could not serve as the basis for a tortious interference with [his] contract claim" because, among other reasons, Petitioner had not properly alleged that "he was party to a contract with a third party."

As to Petitioner's claim for "tortious interference with [his] prospective business relations," the Appellate Division found that Petitioner was unable to show that Defendant directly interfered with any prospective third-party agreement through "wrongful means" nor could he establish that he would have been hired by a third party "but for" Defendant's actions. In the words of the court, "such vague aspirations of future employment are insufficient ...," citing Kickertz v New York Univ., 110 AD3d 268 and Murphy v City of New York, 59 AD3d 301.

The decision is posted on the Internet at