44 Cal.App.3d 943, 33646, Lynch v. Glass

Docket Nº:33646
Citation:44 Cal.App.3d 943, 119 Cal.Rptr. 139
Opinion Judge:[10] Christian
Party Name:Lynch v. Glass
Attorney:[7] Edward R. Fitzsimmons and Ken Fishbach for Plaintiffs and Appellants. [8] Spridgen, Barrett, Achor, Luckhardt, Anderson & James, James B. Hinton and A. Leonard Bjorklund, Jr., for Defendants and Respondents.
Case Date:January 29, 1975
Court:California Court of Appeals

Page 943

44 Cal.App.3d 943

119 Cal.Rptr. 139

Frank W. LYNCH et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,


Warren GLASS, Jr., et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Civ. 33646.

California Court of Appeal, First District, Fourth Division

Jan. 29, 1975.

Page 944

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Law Offices of Edward R. Fitzsimmons by Ken Fishbach, Oakland, for plaintiffs and appellants.

Spridgen, Barrett, Achor, Luckhardt, Anderson & James by James B. Hinton, Santa Rosa, A. Leonard Bjorklund, Jr., Sausalito, for defendants and respondents.

CHRISTIAN, Associate Justice.

Frank and Ellenora Lynch and Edward and Elizabeth Fitzsimmons appeal from a judgment determining that they have no easement rights over a road across property of defendants Warren and Ida Lou Glass and James S. Erway.

In 1965, respondents and others blocked off from public access a road known as Wolfback Ridge Road crossing partially undeveloped territory west of Sausalito. Appellants sued to establish their claimed right to use the road, alleging alternatively that the road was a public way or was subject to a private easement in their favor. The judgment for respondents was based on the trial court's determinations that a judgment in a prior action collaterally estopped appellants from asserting a public easement, and that appellants had failed to prove a private easement.

The prior judgment was against Gulf Oil Corporation and Frouge Corporation, the intended developers of certain lands adjoining the Glass property in the Wolfback Ridge area. The developers acted on the assumption that Wolfback Ridge Road would provide public access to their lands. The Glasses instituted a slander of title action against the two corporations, seeking damages and an injunction against trespass. James Erway, also a respondent in the present appeal, was joined as a cross-defendant in the Gulf Oil case. The two corporations asserted in defense that Wolfback Ridge Road was subject to private or public easements. After a lengthy trial, the present respondents took a judgment determining that they were holders of record title to portions of the road, that neither the corporations nor the public had any recorded interest in the road, and that the road had neither been dedicated to public use nor subjected to an implied easement. That judgment was affirmed on appeal. (Glass v. Gulf Oil Corp. (1970) 12 Cal.App.3d 412, 96 Cal.Rptr. 902.)

Page 947

Appellants contend that the court erred in determining that they were collaterally estopped from asserting that Wolfback Ridge Road was subject to a public easement. The prerequisites for the application of collateral estoppel are an identity of issues decided in a prior case with those presented in subsequent litigation, a final judgment on the merits, and a determination that the party against whom the principle is asserted was a party or in privity with a party in the prior action. (Teitelbaum Furs, Inc. v. Dominion Ins. Co., Ltd. (1962) 58 Cal.2d 601, 604, 25 Cal.Rptr. 559, cert. den. 372 U.S. 966, 83 S.Ct. 1091, 10 L.Ed.2d 130; Dillard v. McKnight (1949) 34 Cal.2d 209, 214; Bernhard v. Bank of America (1942) 19 Cal.2d 807, 813.) The decision in Glass v. Gulf Oil Corp. unquestionably was a final judgment on the merits. We have concluded, however, that the doctrine of collateral estoppel was inapplicable because appellants were not in privity with the Gulf and Frouge corporations.

A party cannot assert a prior adjudication against another who was not a party or in privity with a party to the prior action. (See Developments in the Law: Res...

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