Carry Motter and the Apprentice’s Gem

Question 1
Cathy Copy, author of a book called Carry Motter and the Apprentice’s Gem, is sued in Federal District Court by HP publishers for copyright infringement and breach of contract for copying the works of another author. The Court dismisses the copyright infringement claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) but allows the breach of contract claim to proceed to trial. The jury finds for the defendant and the court enters judgment. HP publishers files suit against Cathy Copy in a different federal jurisdiction raising the copyright infringement claim again. What are the implications of a second law suit for the copyright infringement claim from a res judicata perspective? Does it matter that the Court in the first suit has entered a final judgment? Refer to the Second Restatement of Judgments (as cited in your text) for the government rules.

Response 1:
Under Res Judicata, HP Publishers is not in a position to file a second lawsuit as there is the passing of a ruling, and the facts of the transaction are similar to the first case. Res Judicata is the Latin for “the thing has been decided”. It is a useful rule when there is one party in a case not satisfied with the ruling and is not willing to appeal but wants to file another similar case. The principle states that the ruling is the final judgment as long as it is from a competent court (Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel, nationalparalegal.edu). The judgment is under consideration as conclusive whenever the parties are in pursuit of the similar cause of action under a succeeding legal action. The principle rule under Res Judicata bars the plaintiff from filing another prosecution case against the defendant as long as there has been the provision of a valid final judgment. The three conditions in the rule barring the plaintiff include:

• The second claim has the same factual transaction as the basis as the first case.
• The plaintiff is seeking remedy that is an alternative to the first case that was being sought.
• The second claim is joinable with the first action.

The principle is clear and bars HP Publishers from filing another suit against Cathy Copy due to the reason that there was the delivery of a valid ruling in the first action. HP Publisher cannot bring an action to court for the copyright infringement charge against the “Carry Motter” publication for a second time. The court had already given a ruling in the case and had dismissed the case meaning that HP Publishers can only appeal but not file a second case. The first condition of the principle states that the bar is subject to factual transaction being similar to the first and the second case. In the second case, the factual transaction is similar to the first, meaning that the company is not in a position to file a second action.
References
Barnet, P. R. Res Judicata, Estoppel, and Foreign Judgments: The Preclusive Effects of Foreign Judgments in Private International Law. London: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.
“Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel.” Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
“Resolving Your Case Before Trial: Court Motions – FindLaw.” Findlaw. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Teachers Comment: I would disagree with your analysis. Under these facts, the copyright claim was dismissed for failure to state a claim, not on the merits of the case. Therefore, it would not be barred by res judicata.

Question 2
Assuming the fact pattern above, Cathy Copy has written a new book, Carry Motter and the Closet of Lies. Cathy Copy is sued again in Federal District Court by HP publishers for copyright infringement and breach of contract. How might this law suit be affected by the collateral estoppel doctrine? Explain what the collateral estoppel doctrine is.
Response 2
Collateral estoppel bars HP Publishers from filing a case against Cathy Copy on the second publication called “Carry Motter and the Closet of Lies” on the grounds of copyright infringement. Collateral estoppel principle is useful when a claim is not under litigation but at the bar. However, the current claim must be exact to a previous one that had been before a court, litigated and ruled; the principle of Collateral estoppel will apply. The principle helps to prevent the re-litigation of an issue already decided by a valid ruling. Collateral estoppel doctrine applies when the first and second litigation and parties are similar (Barnett, 165).

Therefore, it is not possible for HP Publishers to bring an action against Cathy Copy for the second publication as the doctrine restricts this kind of action. The facts and parties are identical in both cases; there was the action in the first case, and there was the provision of a valid judgment. With the satisfaction of the conditions of the doctrine, Cathy Copy may continue walking free.
References

Barnet, P. R. Res Judicata, Estoppel, and Foreign Judgments: The Preclusive Effects of Foreign Judgments in Private International Law. London: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

“Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel.” Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
“Resolving Your Case Before Trial: Court Motions – FindLaw.” Findlaw. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

Teacher’s Comment: I would disagree with your analysis that collateral estoppel may bar the copyright infringement claim. The prior claim was not decided on the merits. Further, the copy for the second publication is likely different. The breach of contract claim however, would be precluded.

Question 3
Discuss in detail how you think jurisdictional issues might arise in a law office that handles general civil matters. Touch on all three of the “hoops” of jurisdiction discussed in our textbook.

Response 3

There are cases that the court may not possess any power to make a ruling on a controversial issue. It is due to the lack of jurisdiction on the subject matter under litigation. The best illustration is when a state law makes a request to a special court to pass rulings on certain matters such as will interpretation. A general civil court may ask a probate court to make rulings on the interpretation of a will since the civil court does not possess the power of making such a ruling. There are other instances that a court may not be in a position to make a decision on a case because of one of the parties in the case. It is the lack of personal jurisdiction. It arises when the civil court lacking power over one party as the party does not possess minimum contacts of the area of the lawsuit. An illustration is when an accident occurs in a different state from the one that the defendant lives, and the case filing is in another state different from the two.

All states have made formulations in determining the most probable areas where filing of cases of a specific nature can occur. Failure to adhere to these rules leads to the venue of the case being termed as improper. With improper venue, the lawsuit automatically becomes inappropriate despite the existence of personal and subject matter jurisdiction. However, there can be transfer of the venue instead of dismissing the lawsuit.
References

Barnet, P. R. Res Judicata, Estoppel, and Foreign Judgments: The Preclusive Effects of Foreign Judgments in Private International Law. London: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

“Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel.” Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

“Resolving Your Case Before Trial: Court Motions – FindLaw.” Findlaw. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

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