Law Lessons from In re Bende, Chan. Div. BER-P-48-13, Peter E. Doyne, A.J.S.C., April 24, 2013:
Judicial policy favors the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata. There are many benefits to these doctrines, such as: “finality and repose; prevention of needless litigation; avoidance of duplication; reduction of unnecessary burdens of time and expenses; elimination of conflicts, confusion and uncertainty; and basic fairness.” Hennessey v. Winslow Twp., 183 N.J. 593 (2005) (citing Hackensack v. Winner, 82 N.J. 1, 32-33 (1980)).
The doctrine of collateral estoppel operates to foreclose relitigation of an issue when the party asserting the bar has successfully demonstrated the following: (1) the issue to be precluded is identical to the issue decided in the prior proceeding; (2) the issue was actually litigated in the prior proceeding; (3) the court in the prior proceeding issued a final judgment on the merits; (4) the determination of the issue was essential to the prior judgment; and (5) the party against whom the doctrine is asserted was party or in privity with a party to the earlier proceeding.
Res judicata, also known as “claim preclusion,” is a related doctrine that “requires that (1) the judgment in the prior action must be valid, final, and on the merits; (2) the parties in the later action must be identical to or in privity with those in the prior action; and (3) the claim in the later action must grow out of the same transaction or occurrence as the claim in the earlier one.” McNeil v. Legislative Apportionment Comm’n, 117 N.J. 364, 395 (2003).
The Court in Central R.R. v. Neeld, 26 N.J. 172, (N.J. 1958) articulated, “[t]he doctrine of res judicata is well designed to preclude the relitigation of issues which have been fairly and finally determined, but it ordinarily does not come into play where the parties have not had an adjudication on the ultimate merits.” Id. at 177.
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