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WERLEIN v. NEW ORLEANS.

decided: April 16, 1900.

WERLEIN
v.
NEW ORLEANS.



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.

Author: PECKHAM

[ 177 U.S. Page 395]

 MR. JUSTICE PECKHAM, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.

The defendant in error has made a motion to dismiss the writ of error on the ground of want of jurisdiction. We think it must be denied. The sole question in the case is in regard to the validity of the exception to the decision of the trial court

[ 177 U.S. Page 396]

     refusing to admit in evidence the judgment recovered in the United States Circuit Court in the action of the city of New Orleans against Klein.

The defendant herein in his answer specially set up such judgment, and claimed that under and by virtue thereof the city was concluded from maintaining its action; the state court refused to give effect to the judgment, and the denial of this right was excepted to by the defendant, and was also assigned as error in the state Supreme Court. In such case we think a Federal question exists. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, &c., Railroad v. Long Island Trust Company, 172 U.S. 493, 507, and cases there cited; Phoenix Insurance Company v. Tennessee, 161 U.S. 174, 184. Whether full faith and credit have been given the judgment of a Federal court by the courts of a State is a Federal question, and that question exists in this case.

Upon the merits we have simply to inquire whether the courts below erred in their decision refusing to admit in evidence the judgment in the chancery suit above mentioned.

The judgment in that suit was between the city as complainant and Klein as defendant, and it had reference to the proceedings of the marshal in the execution of his writ issued upon the judgment of Klein against the city. The defendant in this suit traces his title back to Lewis, who purchased upon the sale under the marshal's writ, and so when the defendant is sued in this action he stands as privy to one of the parties to the chancery suit, and can claim the same rights in the judgment therein as an adjudication, which Lewis or Klein could have claimed if either were in possession of the property, and this suit had been brought against the one in possession.

The law in relation to the effect of a judgment between the same parties is well known, but its proper application to particular cases is sometimes quite difficult to determine. The following authorities treat of the subject very fully and exhaustively: Cromwell v. County of Sac, 94 U.S. 351; Davis v. Brown, 94 U.S. 423; New Orleans v. Citizens' Bank, 167 U.S. 371; Southern Pacific Railroad v. United States, 168 U.S. 1; Delabigarre v. Second Municipality of New Orleans, 3 La. Ann. 230; Slocomb v. Lizardi, 21 La. Ann. 355.

[ 177 U.S. Page 397]

     In the first cited case, it was said that a former judgment between the same parties (or their privies) upon the same cause of action as that stated in the second case constitutes an absolute bar to the prosecution of the second action, not only as to every matter which was offered and received to sustain or defeat the claim or demand, but as to any other admissible matter which might have been offered for that purpose. Where the second action between the same parties is upon a different claim or demand, the judgment in the former action operates as an estoppel only as to those matters in issue or points controverted upon the determination of which the finding or verdict was rendered.

So in Davis v. Brown, supra, Mr. Justice Field, in delivering the opinion of the court, said in speaking of a prior judgment: "The judgment is not only conclusive as to what was actually determined respecting such demand, but as to every matter which might have been brought forward and determined respecting it."

In New Orleans v. Citizens' Bank, (supra, at p. 396,) Mr. Justice White, speaking for the court, said: "The estoppel resulting from the thing adjudged does not depend upon whether there is the same demand in both cases, but exists, even although there be different demands, when the question upon which the recovery of the second demand depends has under identical ...


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