Article Title

Collateral Estoppel


The doctrine of collateral estoppel involves the use of an old judgment in a new action to prevent the relitigation of issues resolved by that old judgment. At common law, use of the doctrine required that the party using collateral estoppel and the party against whom it was used be the same as the parties to the prior judgment. This common law requirement of mutuality has been relaxed and since the United States Supreme Court's 1979 decision in ParklaneHoisery Co. v. Shore, the strict common law requirement of mutuality has all but completely vanished. In Parklane the Court sanctioned the use of collateral estoppel by a plaintiff who was a stranger to the original suit against a defendant who was party to that suit. The courts' search for fair results and judicial economy in the application of the doctrine led to this application of the doctrine in circumstances in which the parties were not mutual. This note traces the un- steady course which the doctrine of collateral estoppel traveled before Parklane. The significance of the Court's decision in Parklane is then analyzed. Finally, post-Parklane applications of collateral estoppel are discussed, including the effect of the use of collateral estoppel on the seventh amendment right to jury trial and its impact on substantive areas of law.