Judgments – Res Judicata – Limitation of California Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel in Multiple Claimant Cases

Plaintiffs were injured when their car was struck by defendant. They commenced separate negligence actions, which were consolidated for trial. These actions resulted in a judgment for plaintiff son, but judgments were entered against the plaintiffs mother and father. These parties were granted a new trial, with no limitation upon the issues to be tried. On the second trial the parents asserted the son’s judgment, which had become final and been satisfied, as conclusively establishing defendant’s negligence. The trial court ruled against them and submitted the issue of defendant’s negligence to the jury. On appeal by the parents, held, affirmed. Collateral estoppel does not apply to claims of different persons arising from a single accident. To recover, each claimant must establish the defendant’s liability unaided by judgments rendered in favor of other claimants. Nevarov v. Caldwell, (Cal. App. 1958) 327 P. (2d) 111.