653 N.E.2d 226 (Ohio 1995), 94-1406, Grava v. Parkman Twp.

Docket Nº94-1406.
Citation653 N.E.2d 226, 73 Ohio St.3d 379, 1995-Ohio-331
Opinion JudgeWRIGHT, J.
Party NameGRAVA, Appellant, v. PARKMAN TOWNSHIP [Board of Zoning Appeals], Appellee.
AttorneyWalter, Haverfield, Buescher & Chockley and R. Todd Hunt, Cleveland, for appellant. Walter, Haverfield, Buescher & Chockley and R. Todd Hunt, for appellant. David P. Joyce, Geauga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Lorrie A. Sass, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.
Judge PanelMOYER, C.J., and FRANCIS E. SWEENEY, Sr. and COOK, JJ., concur. DOUGLAS, RESNICK and PFEIFER, JJ., dissent. DOUGLAS, Justice, dissenting. RESNICK and PFEIFER, JJ., concur in the foregoing dissenting opinion.
Case DateAugust 30, 1995
CourtSupreme Court of Ohio

Page 226

653 N.E.2d 226 (Ohio 1995)

73 Ohio St.3d 379, 1995-Ohio-331

GRAVA, Appellant,

v.

PARKMAN TOWNSHIP [Board of Zoning Appeals], Appellee.

No. 94-1406.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

August 30, 1995

Page 227

Submitted June 7, 1995.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A valid, final judgment rendered upon the merits bars all subsequent actions based upon any claim arising out of the transaction or occurrence that was the subject matter of the previous action. (Paragraph two of the syllabus of Norwood v. McDonald [1943], 142 Ohio St. 299, 27 O.O. 240, 52 N.E.2d 67, overruled; paragraph two of the syllabus of Whitehead v. Gen. Tel. Co. [1969], 20 Ohio St.2d 108, 49 O.O.2d 435, 254 N.E.2d 10, overruled to the extent inconsistent herewith; paragraph one of the syllabus of Norwood, supra, and paragraph one of the syllabus of Whitehead, supra, modified; 1 Restatement of the Law 2d, Judgments [1982], Sections 24-25, approved and adopted.)

In August 1991, appellant, Alfred Grava, who owns 3.6 acres of industrially zoned land located in Parkman Township, Geauga County, Ohio, submitted an "application for a zoning certificate" to the Parkman Township Zoning Inspector. Grava wanted to construct a building on his property to improve his existing business. The zoning inspector denied the application on the basis of Section 404.4 of the Parkman Township Zoning Ordinance ("Section 404.4"), which requires that industrially zoned property contain a minimum of five acres.

Grava, acting pro se, appealed to appellee, Parkman Township Board of Zoning Appeals ("board"), seeking a variance from Section 404.4. Following public hearings, the board denied Grava's request for a variance on December 3, 1991. Grava did not appeal the board's decision.

On May 15, 1992, Grava submitted a second application for a zoning certificate to the zoning inspector, requesting permission to construct the same building that was the subject of his earlier application. In his second application, Grava asserted that he was entitled to construct the building pursuant to Section 906.0 [73 Ohio St.3d 380] of the Parkman Township Zoning Ordinance ("Section 906.0"). 1 The zoning inspector denied the application for the same reason he denied Grava's first application.

Subsequently, Grava filed with the board two notices of appeal. In one document, Grava asserted that the zoning inspector erred in refusing to grant a zoning certificate under Section 906.0. In the other document, Grava argued, in the alternative, that he should be granted a variance from the five-acre requirement set forth in Section 404.4. After a public hearing, the board denied both appeals. Reasoning that it had previously denied Grava's request to build the same building in the same location and that no other circumstances had changed, the board concluded that Grava's application for a zoning certificate pursuant to Section 906.0 was barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

Upon Grava's appeal pursuant to R.C. 2506.01 et seq., the Court of Common Pleas of Geauga County concluded that the board was bound by its prior decision and affirmed the board's decision. Upon further appeal, the Geauga County Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The court of appeals held that Grava was barred by the doctrine of res judicata from asserting an alternate ground for relief pursuant to Section 906.0 because that claim " 'might have been litigated' " in his first appeal to the board concerning his 1991 application for a zoning certificate.

Finding its judgment to be in conflict with the judgments of the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals in Jones v. Petruska (1979), 13 O.O.3d 111, and Positive Edn. Program v. Cleveland (Sept. 3, 1987), Cuyahoga App. No. 53081, unreported, 1987 WL 16531, the court

Page 228

of appeals certified the record of the cause to this court for review and final determination.

Walter, Haverfield, Buescher & Chockley and R. Todd Hunt, Cleveland, for appellant.

David P. Joyce, Geauga County Pros. Atty., and Lorrie A. Sass, Asst. Pros. Atty., for appellee.

WRIGHT, Justice.

The issue certified to this court is whether, "[a]bsent a showing of changed circumstances, the doctrine of res judicata is applicable to decisions of a [73 Ohio St.3d 381] board of zoning appeals denying a request for a variance, even when the subsequent action seeks a zoning certificate based on the property's alleged status as a prior legal nonconforming use as provided for in a zoning resolution." We answer this query in the affirmative.

In Set Products, Inc. v. Bainbridge Twp. Bd. of Zoning Appeals (1987), 31 Ohio St.3d 260, 31 OBR 463, 510 N.E.2d 373, paragraph one of the syllabus, this court held that "[t]he doctrine of res judicata applies to the decisions of a township board of zoning appeals relating to the grant or denial of variances * * *." We explained that res judicata, whether claim preclusion or issue preclusion, applies to administrative proceedings that are " 'of a judicial nature and where the parties have had an ample opportunity to litigate the issues involved in the proceeding.' " Id. at 263, 31 OBR at 465, 510 N.E.2d at 376 (quoting Superior's Brand v. Lindley [1980], 62 Ohio St.2d 133, 16 O.O.3d 150, 403 N.E.2d 996, syllabus). See, also, Consumers' Counsel v. Pub. Util. Comm. (1985), 16 Ohio St.3d 9, 16 OBR 361, 475 N.E.2d 782.

The doctrine of res judicata involves both claim preclusion (historically called estoppel by judgment in Ohio) and issue preclusion (traditionally known as collateral estoppel). See Whitehead v. Gen. Tel. Co. (1969), 20 Ohio St.2d 108, 49 O.O.2d 435, 254 N.E.2d 10; Krahn v. Kinney (1989), 43 Ohio St.3d 103, 107, 538 N.E.2d 1058, 1062; 46 American Jurisprudence 2d (1994) 780, Judgments, Section 516. This case involves claim preclusion only.

With regard to the claim-preclusive effect of the doctrine of res judicata, this court, in previous years, has stated: "A final judgment or decree rendered upon the merits, without fraud or collusion, by a court of competent jurisdiction * * * is a complete bar to any subsequent action on the same claim or cause of action between the parties or those in privity with them." Norwood v. McDonald (1943), 142 Ohio St. 299, 27 O.O. 240, 52 N.E.2d 67, paragraph one of the syllabus; see, also, Whitehead v. Gen. Tel. Co., supra, paragraph one of the syllabus. We also have stated: "A judgment or decree in a former action does not bar a subsequent action where the causes of action are not the same, even though each action relates to the same subject matter." Norwood, supra, paragraph two of the syllabus; see, also, Whitehead, supra, paragraph two of the syllabus. To determine whether a second action was barred by this rule of law, one of the primary considerations was the identity of the evidence necessary to sustain each action. See Norwood, supra, paragraph four of the syllabus.

Relying primarily on Whitehead, supra, Grava asserts that the doctrine of res judicata does not bar the present action concerning his second application for a zoning certificate because this action involves a distinctly different method of obtaining relief than the previous action involving his first application. He [73 Ohio St.3d 382] argues that the facts necessary to obtain relief under Section 906.0 are different from the facts necessary to obtain a variance. 2

In recent years, this court has not limited the application of the doctrine of res judicata

Page 229

to bar only those subsequent actions involving the same legal theory of recovery as a previous action. In Natl. Amusements, Inc. v. Springdale (1990), 53 Ohio St.3d 60, 62, 558 N.E.2d 1178, 1180, we stated: "It has long been the law of Ohio that 'an existing final judgment or decree between the parties to litigation is conclusive as to all claims which were or might have been litigated in a first lawsuit' " (emphasis sic ) (quoting Rogers v. Whitehall [1986], 25 Ohio St.3d 67, 69, 25 OBR 89, 90, 494 N.E.2d 1387, 1388). We also declared that "[t]he doctrine of res judicata requires a plaintiff to present every ground for relief in the first action, or be forever barred from asserting it." Id.

Today, we expressly adhere to the modern application of the doctrine of res judicata, as stated in 1 Restatement of the Law 2d, Judgments (1982), Sections 24-25, and hold that a valid, final judgment rendered upon the merits bars all subsequent actions based upon any claim arising out of the transaction or occurrence that was the subject matter of the previous action. Therefore, we overrule the second paragraph of the syllabus in Norwood, supra, and overrule the second paragraph of the syllabus in Whitehead, supra, to the extent it is inconsistent with today's holding.

Section 24(1) of the Restatement of Judgments, supra, at 196, provides: "When a valid and final judgment rendered in an action extinguishes the plaintiff's claim pursuant to the rules of merger or bar * * *, the claim extinguished includes all rights of the plaintiff to remedies against the defendant with respect to all or any part of the transaction, or series of connected transactions, out of which the action arose." See, also, 46 American Jurisprudence 2d, supra, at Sections 516 and 533. Comment b to Section 24 of the Restatement of Judgments, supra, at 198-199, defines a "transaction" as a "common nucleus of operative facts." Comment c to Section 24, at 200, plainly states: "That a number of...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP