Israel v. Wood Dolson Co.

Decision Date19 April 1956
Citation134 N.E.2d 97,1 N.Y.2d 116,151 N.Y.S.2d 1
Parties, 134 N.E.2d 97 Samuel A. ISRAEL, Appellant, v. WOOD DOLSON COMPANY, Inc., Defendant, and Alexander Gross, Respondent.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

George J. Rudnick, Brooklyn, for appellant.

Sidney Roffman, New York City, for respondent.

CONWAY, Chief Judge.

In December, 1950, the appellant, Samuel A. Israel, commenced an action against Wood Dolson Company and the respondent Alexander Gross. The complaint contained two causes of action.

The first cause of action, which was addressed to Wood Dolson, was based upon the alleged breach of a written contract under which Israel was to be entitled to a commission in the event that any future buyer, introduced by Israel to Wood Dolson, purchased certain premises described in the agreement. Israel alleged that he introduced Gross to Wood Dolson; that Wood Dolson effected a sale of the property to Gross or his nominees; that he, Israel, was entitled to the commission agreed upon and that the failure of Wood Dolson to pay the commission constituted a breach of the contract.

The second cause of action, addressed to Gross, alleged that Gross, having knowledge of the agreement between Israel and Wood Dolson induced Wood Dolson to commit the breach of contract alleged in the first cause of action.

At the opening of trial Israel moved to sever the two causes of action and to have them tried separately. The motion was granted and the trial proceeded against Wood Dolson alone on the first cause of action based solely upon the breach of contract. The jury found for the plaintiff, but the Trial Justice dismissed the complaint on the ground that the testimony showed that plaintiff Israel did not introduce Gross to the transaction, but that defendant Wood Dolson had negotiated with Gross before the plaintiff first discussed the transaction with Gross. No appeal was taken from that determination.

Thereupon, Gross amended his answer to plead the affirmative defense of res judicata, following which he moved for summary judgment upon the ground that he, Gross, could not be found to here induced Wood Dolson to breach a contract with Israel when a court of competent jurisdiction had adjudicated the fact that no breach of contract had occurred between Israel and Wood Dolson.

Special Term denied the motion for summary judgment upon the theory that a prior judgment generally concludes only the parties or their privies; that under the doctrine of res judicata the estoppel of the judgment must be mutual; that such mutuality was lacking here and that the defendant had not brought himself within any of the recognized exceptions to the rule requiring mutuality of estoppel.

The Appellate Division unanimously reversed, holding that the exceptions to the rule of mutuality should be as broad as the requirements of justice and practical necessity and that it would be entirely incongruous to allow Israel a second chance to prove a breach of contract which he failed to establish after full opportunity on the trial of his action against Wood Dolson.

The sole issue before us, therefore, is whether the dismissal of Israel's complaint against Wood Dolson, upon the ground of his failure to prove a breach of contract upon the trial of the first cause of action, is a defense available under the doctrine of res judicata as between Israel and Gross on the second cause of action for inducing the breach of the same alleged contract.

The common-law doctrine of res judicata, designed to bar relitigation of adjudicated issues, is the law's recognition of the fact that it is to the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation. The doctrine, as generally stated, is that an existing final judgment rendered upon the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction, is binding upon the parties and their privies in all other actions or suits on points and matters litigated and adjudicated in the first suit or which might have been litigated therein, Good Health Dairy Products Corp. of Rochester v. Emery, 275 N.Y. 14, 17, 9 N.E.2d 758, 759, 112 A.L.R. 401; Schuylkill Fuel Corp. v. B. & C. Nieberg Realty Corp., 250 N.Y. 304, 165 N.E. 456. It is likewise generally stated that the plea of res judicata is available only to parties to the prior action or their privies, and that the estoppel of the judgment must be mutual. Nevertheless, there are a number of cases holding that to this latter rule there are exceptions.

Appellant Israel concedes that an exception to the mutuality concept is made in cases where the relationship between the defendants in the two suits has been that of principal and agent, master and servant, or indemnitor and indemnitee, but contends that no exception should be made where none of those relationships is shown to have existed.

The exceptions in the above-enumerated classes of cases resulted from the recognition that under certain circumstances a rigid adherence to the mutuality concept would...

To continue reading

Request your trial
394 cases
  • Baumgardner v. Bimbo Food Bakeries Distribution, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • March 2, 2010
    ...establishing the elements of tortious interference with contract under New York law. Indeed, Kronos cites Israel v. Wood Dolson Co., 1 N.Y.2d 116, 151 N.Y.S.2d 1, 134 N.E.2d 97 (1956), as authority for the elements of the test, and Israel clearly requires a third party breach. Id. at 120, 1......
  • Twentieth Century Fox Film v. Marvel Enterprises
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • August 9, 2001
    ...Ave. Assocs., Inc. v. Euclid Equip. Inc., 229 A.D.2d 486, 645 N.Y.S.2d 511, 512 (2d Dep't 1996) (citing Israel v. Wood Dolson Co., 1 N.Y.2d 116, 119, 151 N.Y.S.2d 1, 134 N.E.2d 97 (1956)) (stating identical standard to Kronos, 27. Fox's reliance on Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman v. Cohen, 146 Ca......
  • Carter v. Helmsley-Spear, Inc., 94 Civ. 2922 (DNE).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • August 31, 1994
    ...Kronos, Inc. v. AVX Corp., 81 N.Y.2d 90, 595 N.Y.S.2d 931, 934, 612 N.E.2d 289, 292 (1993) (citing Israel v. Wood Dolson Co., 1 N.Y.2d 116, 120, 151 N.Y.S.2d 1, 134 N.E.2d 97 (1956)). The New York Court of Appeals has described this cause of action in the following The American Law Institut......
  • Finley v. Giacobbe
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • January 5, 1996
    ...procured the breach of the contract; and (d) that the breach resulted in damage to the plaintiff. Israel v. Wood Dolson Co., 1 N.Y.2d 116, 120, 151 N.Y.S.2d 1, 5, 134 N.E.2d 97, 99-100 (1956); Kaminski v. United Parcel Serv., 120 A.D.2d 409, 412, 501 N.Y.S.2d 871, 873 (1st Dep't The distric......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 firm's commentaries
  • Motions For Reargument In The Court Of Appeals
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • September 15, 2021
    ...The law recognizes that "it is to the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation." Israel v. Wood Dolson Co., 1 N.Y.2d 116, 118 (1956). This principle pervades the judicial attitude toward motions for reargument, which were aptly described almost 70 years ago in Cohen &......
  • Motions For Reargument In The Court Of Appeals
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • September 15, 2021
    ...The law recognizes that "it is to the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation." Israel v. Wood Dolson Co., 1 N.Y.2d 116, 118 (1956). This principle pervades the judicial attitude toward motions for reargument, which were aptly described almost 70 years ago in Cohen &......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT