703 F.2d 1305 (D.C. Cir. 1983), 82-1316, Novak v. World Bank

Docket Nº:82-1316.
Citation:703 F.2d 1305
Party Name:George J. NOVAK, Appellant v. WORLD BANK, et al.
Case Date:April 01, 1983
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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Page 1305

703 F.2d 1305 (D.C. Cir. 1983)

George J. NOVAK, Appellant

v.

WORLD BANK, et al.

No. 82-1316.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

April 1, 1983

        Argued Nov. 18, 1982.

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        Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C.Civil Action No. 81-01329).

        George J. Novak, pro se.

        David P. Durbin, with whom Lawrence E. Carr, Jr., Washington, D.C., was on brief, for appellee.

        Before MacKINNON and SCALIA, Circuit Judges, and SWYGERT, [*] Senior Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

        Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge MacKINNON.

        MacKINNON, Circuit Judge:

        Appellant, George J. Novak, proceeding pro se, appeals the dismissal of his action against his former employer, the World Bank, 1 and his local bank, Madison National Bank (Madison National), alleging age discrimination, in violation of 29 U.S.C. Sec. 623(a) (1976), 2 and conspiracy to deter, by intimidation and harassment, his prosecution of actions against World Bank in the United States courts, in violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1985(2) (Supp. IV 1980). 3 The district court summarily dismissed appellant's complaint against Madison National on the grounds of res judicata. The complaint against World Bank was dismissed for failure

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to perfect service. Novak v. World Bank, No. 81-1329 (D.D.C. Feb. 4, 1982). We reverse because res judicata does not apply to the complaint against Madison National and because there is a reasonable prospect that service can be made on World Bank.

       I.

        Appellant, age 53 when he filed his complaint in 1981, was an employee of World Bank from April 1967 until his dismissal in October 1979. His complaint in this action alleges a litany of misdeeds allegedly perpetrated against him by World Bank in pursuit of a policy of age discrimination. Complaint paragraphs 20-27. 4 Appellant claims that World Bank harassed, threatened, and intimidated him as he attempted to pursue his employment discrimination claims. Complaint paragraphs 34-42, 45. 5 He also asserts that Madison National participated in a conspiracy with World Bank and others to implicate him in a check forging scheme and thereby force his resignation, and to harass and intimidate him. Complaint paragraphs 15, 28-33, 46. 6

        This action is appellant's third attempt to assert his claims against World Bank in federal court. In February 1979, appellant commenced an action in the district court alleging that World Bank had impermissibly discriminated against him on the basis of age and nationality, and had harassed him during the administrative review process, in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. Complaint p 26, Novak v. World Bank, No. 79-0641 (D.D.C. filed Feb. 26, 1979). Appellant's complaint sought, inter alia, to enjoin World Bank "and those acting openly or covertly in concert with them,

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from threatening or engaging in any acts of reprisal, retribution, punishment or harassment against plaintiff because of his attempts to vindicate his right to equal employment opportunity." Id., Part V, p 7. This action did not include Madison National, nor did it aver the facts alleged in the present action with respect to that entity. The district court dismissed the action for failure to state a claim. Novak v. World Bank, No. 79-0641, slip op. at 4 (D.D.C. June 12, 1979). 7 No appeal was taken.

        Undeterred, appellant filed a second action alleging essentially the same facts as his first, but grounding recovery against World Bank on "negligent business practices and personal injury." Complaint p 20, Novak v. World Bank, No. 79-2305 (D.D.C. filed Aug. 29, 1979). Once again, Madison National was not a party to, nor mentioned in, appellant's action. The district court dismissed the action on the grounds of res judicata. Novak v. World Bank, No. 79-2305 (D.D.C. Oct. 23, 1979), aff'd without opinion, No. 79-2382 (D.C.Cir. Apr. 28, 1980).

        Madison National filed a motion to dismiss appellant's most recent action, claiming that principles of res judicata barred his action because of his previous, unsuccessful litigation with World Bank. The district court granted Madison National's motion, summarily dismissing with prejudice appellant's action against Madison National "according to the principles of res judicata ...." Novak v. World Bank, No. 81-1329 (D.D.C. Feb. 4, 1982). World Bank did not enter an appearance in the district court because appellant's attempts to effect service on World Bank had been frustrated. 8 The district court sua sponte dismissed without prejudice appellant's action against World Bank "for failure to obtain proper service." Id. This appeal followed.

       II.

  1. Madison National Bank

            Madison National contends that appellant's action against it is barred by principles of res judicata. It asserts that all of the events supporting appellant's conspiracy action against Madison National occurred prior to his earlier litigation against World Bank. Madison National argues that appellant could have brought his conspiracy claim against Madison National in those earlier actions and, so, is barred by res judicata from doing so now in a suit involving Madison National. We cannot agree. The doctrine of res judicata based on prior adjudications in cases brought against World Bank has no application to appellant's action against Madison National, and the related doctrine of collateral estoppel, which is relevant to that action, does not bar appellant's action against that organization. 9

            The doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel are easily confused because the

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    term "res judicata" is often used to embrace both doctrines. 1B J. Moore & T. Currier, Moore's Federal Practice p 0.405, at 621-23 (2d ed. 1982). However, it is important to distinguish the two concepts because res judicata and collateral estoppel apply in different circumstances with different consequences to litigants. The Supreme Court recently articulated the distinction:

    Under res judicata, a final judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been...

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