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Answered Question
Max B
What's the difference between collateral estoppel and res judicata?
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Answered by: Lawyer Up
In both situations, there are two lawsuits, lawsuit #1 and lawsuit #2. Think of it as if #1 is a car accident case and #2 is a divorce case.

Collateral estoppel: a party would use a court's decision on some part of case 1 to somehow help him in case 2. So, for example, if in case 1, a driver was found to be a habitually drunk driver, then in case 2, that driver's wife might seek to use collateral estoppel to prove that she's divorcing him because of his habitual drunk driving.

Res Judicata: Here, someone is trying to shut down case 2 by saying that whatever the person is claiming in case 2 should have already been brought up in case 1. In the prior example, it would not work. A person could not bring a divorce lawsuit in the same court or the same case that a car accident suit would be in. However, if case 1 were a car accident suit, and case 2 were also a car accident suit, and they were about the same day's accident, then res judicata would work to block the claimant from bringing his claim in case 2.
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TAGS:  civil procedure, res judicata, collateral estoppel
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