Baltimore Co v. Phillips, No. 271

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSUTHERLAND
PartiesBALTIMORE S. S. CO. et al. v. PHILLIPS
Docket NumberNo. 271
Decision Date16 May 1927

274 U.S. 316
47 S.Ct. 600
71 L.Ed. 1069
BALTIMORE S. S. CO. et al.

v.

PHILLIPS.

No. 271.
Argued April 18, 1927.
Decided May 16, 1927.

Page 317

The Attorney General and Mr. arthur M. Boal, of Washington, D. C., for petitioners.

Mr. Edgar J. Treacy, of New York City, for respondent.

Mr. Justice SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

The respondent, an infant 18 years of age, while employed on board a vessel operated by petitioners, was injured by the fall of a strongback used to support a portion

Page 318

of the hatch, and as a result suffered the amputation of a leg. A libel was filed in admiralty to recover damages in the sum of $15,000 against the petitioners and the United States in the federal District Court for the district of Maryland. The libel alleged that the injury was caused by negligence in failing to provide a safe place to work, and to use reasonable care to avoid striking respondent, and by the unseaworthiness and insufficiency of the gear and tackle employed on the vessel. By an amendment, further specifications of negligence were added to the effect that the United States had failed to provide a proper and sufficient gear or socket to support the strongback, that the officers of the vessel were incompetent, and that there was owing to the injured person a special duty because of his youth and inexperience. Libelant prayed that, if negligence should not be established, he have a decree for wages, maintenance and cure. After a trial, the District Court held that upon the evidence the accident was not due to the negligence alleged but to the grossly negligent way in which dunnage was taken out of the hold, and that under the decisions no recovery could be had for damages upon that ground. By the decree libelant was denied full indemnity by way of damages and awarded the sum of $500 as the cost of maintenance and cure, and this amount was paid and the decree satisfied. Phillips v. United States et al. (D. C.) 286 F. 631.

Subsequently this action was brought in the Supreme Court of the state of New York against the petitioners-the United States not being joined-and removed to the federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The complaint alleges negligence on the part of the petitioners and their officers and employees in the control and operation of the vessel and appliances. The allegations of fact as to the way in which the accident happened are substantially the same in both cases. Petitioners answered in the present case, setting up, among other things,

Page 319

the decree in the admiralty case as res judicata, and by stipulation of the parties this was argued before trial. The District Court at first sustained the plea, but, upon reargument, set aside its order to that effect and held the plea bad. A trial resulted in a verdict and judgment for respondent. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment, holding in respect of the plea of res judicata that the second action was based upon a different cause of action. 9 F.(2d) 902. And this presents the sole question for consideration here.

The effect of a judgment or decree as res judicata depends upon whether the second action or suit is upon the same or a different cause of action. If upon the same cause of action, the judgment or decree upon the merits in the first case is an absolute bar to the subsequent action or suit between the same parties or those in privity with them, not only in respect of every matter which was actually offered and received to sustain the demand, but also as to every ground of recovery which might have been presented. But if the second case be upon a different cause of action, the prior judgment or decree operates as an estoppel only as to matters actually in issue or points controverted, upon the determination of which the judgment or decree was rendered. Cromwell v. County of Sac, 94 U. S. 351, 352, 353, 24 L. Ed. 195; United States v. Moser, 266 U. S. 236, 241, 45 S. Ct. 66, 69 L. Ed. 262. There is some confusion in the decisions as to whether the present case should fall within the first or the second branch of the rule, but we are of opinion that the great weight of authority, both in respect of the number of decisions and upon reason, sustains the view that the facts here gave rise to a single cause of action for damages and that the first branch of the rule applies. In United States v. California & Ore. Land Co., 192 U. S. 355, 24 S. Ct. 266, 48 L. Ed. 476, this court announced the general rule to be that a judgment or decree upon the merits concludes the parties as to all media concludendi or grounds

Page 320

for asserting the right, known when the suit was brought. In that case a bill had been brought to have certain patents for land issued by the United States declared void on the ground that the lands were within an Indian reservation and, therefore, reserved from the operation of the grant. The land company pleaded in bar that the United States had filed an earlier bill seeking the same relief and that a final decree had been entered dismissing that bill. The only thing which the court could find to distinguish the two suits was that in the latter the United States had put forward a new ground for its prayer, but in both cases it sought to establish its own title to the fee. This court sustained the plea in bar, saying:

'But the whole tendency of our decisions is to require a plaintiff to try his whole cause of action and his whole case at one time. He cannot even split up his claim. Fetter v. Beale, 1 Salk. 11; Trask v. Hartford & New Haven Railroad, 2 Allen (Mass.) 331; Freeman, Judgments (4th Ed.) §§ 238, 241. And, a fortiori, he cannot divide the grounds of recovery. Unless the statute of 1889 (25 Stat. 850) put the former suit upon a peculiar footing, the United States was bound then to bring forward all the grounds it had for declaring the patents void, and when the bill was dismissed was barred as to all by the decree.'

The same general doctrine is stated in Stark v. Starr, 94 U. S. 477, 485 (24 L. Ed. 276), that:

'A party seeking to enforce a...

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573 practice notes
  • In re Diaz, No. 6:02–bk–05591–ABB.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eleventh Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Middle District of Florida
    • September 30, 2009
    ...v. Justice Oaks II, Ltd. (In re Justice Oaks II, Ltd.), 898 F.2d 1544, 1552 (11th Cir.1990) ( quoting Baltimore S.S. Co. v. Phillips, 274 U.S. 316, 319, 47 S.Ct. 600, 71 L.Ed. 1069 (1927)). The December 31, 2002 Order, Confirmation Order, Discharge Order, and Order Approving Trustee's Repor......
  • Troupe v. Chicago, D. & G. Bay Transit Co., No. 255
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 1, 1956
    ...commission of the same wrong. A judgment on one claim bars a second suit based on the other claim. Baltimore S.S. Co. v. Phillips, 1927, 274 U.S. 316, 321, 47 S.Ct. 600, 602, 71 L.Ed. 1069. Since both claims are based on the same operative facts, they constitute a single "cause of action." ......
  • United States v. United States Gypsum Co., Civil Action No. 8017.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • August 10, 1943
    ...for the purpose of this test of identity is meant the same in gist or material elements. As said in Baltimore S. S. Co. v. Phillips, 1927, 274 U.S. 316, 321, 47 S.Ct. 600, 71 L.Ed. 1069: "The thing, therefore, which in contemplation of law as its cause, becomes a ground for action, is not t......
  • Kansas City v. Halvorson, No. 38611.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 6, 1943
    ...United States, 225 U.S. 347; Ochs v. People, 124 Ill. 399, 16 N.E. 662; Bowman v. Shelton, 158 S.W. 404; Baltimore S.S. Co. v. Phillips, 274 U.S. 316. (6) Knowledge of the city manager of the illegality of payments to appellant cannot be imputed to respondent. American Sash & Door Co. v. Co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
573 cases
  • In re Diaz, No. 6:02–bk–05591–ABB.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eleventh Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Middle District of Florida
    • September 30, 2009
    ...v. Justice Oaks II, Ltd. (In re Justice Oaks II, Ltd.), 898 F.2d 1544, 1552 (11th Cir.1990) ( quoting Baltimore S.S. Co. v. Phillips, 274 U.S. 316, 319, 47 S.Ct. 600, 71 L.Ed. 1069 (1927)). The December 31, 2002 Order, Confirmation Order, Discharge Order, and Order Approving Trustee's Repor......
  • Troupe v. Chicago, D. & G. Bay Transit Co., No. 255
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 1, 1956
    ...commission of the same wrong. A judgment on one claim bars a second suit based on the other claim. Baltimore S.S. Co. v. Phillips, 1927, 274 U.S. 316, 321, 47 S.Ct. 600, 602, 71 L.Ed. 1069. Since both claims are based on the same operative facts, they constitute a single "cause of action." ......
  • United States v. United States Gypsum Co., Civil Action No. 8017.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • August 10, 1943
    ...for the purpose of this test of identity is meant the same in gist or material elements. As said in Baltimore S. S. Co. v. Phillips, 1927, 274 U.S. 316, 321, 47 S.Ct. 600, 71 L.Ed. 1069: "The thing, therefore, which in contemplation of law as its cause, becomes a ground for action, is not t......
  • Kansas City v. Halvorson, No. 38611.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 6, 1943
    ...United States, 225 U.S. 347; Ochs v. People, 124 Ill. 399, 16 N.E. 662; Bowman v. Shelton, 158 S.W. 404; Baltimore S.S. Co. v. Phillips, 274 U.S. 316. (6) Knowledge of the city manager of the illegality of payments to appellant cannot be imputed to respondent. American Sash & Door Co. v. Co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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