Martin v. Ring

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation401 Mass. 59,514 N.E.2d 663
PartiesCharles MARTIN v. Michael RING, administrator. 1
Decision Date03 November 1987

Page 663

514 N.E.2d 663
401 Mass. 59
Charles MARTIN
Michael RING, administrator. 1
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts,
Argued Sept. 10, 1987.
Decided Nov. 3, 1987.

William H. Shaughnessy, Boston, for plaintiff.

Robert W. Carlson (Daniel M. Malis, Boston, with him), for defendant.


LIACOS, Justice.

The plaintiff brought this negligence action against Joseph Dooley (now deceased) for injuries allegedly sustained while working on the porch of Dooley's house. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion in limine to preclude introduction of evidence that the plaintiff suffered a back injury as a result of the accident. The defendant asserted that the plaintiff was collaterally estopped from raising this issue by an adverse decision of the Industrial Accident Board (board), which found that the plaintiff's back injury did not result from [401 Mass. 60] his fall from Dooley's porch. The trial judge granted the motion and directed a verdict for the defendant. 2 The judge reported his interlocutory ruling pursuant to Mass.R.Civ.P. 64, 365 Mass. 831 (1974). 3 We granted the plaintiff's application for direct appellate review. We answer the reported question in the affirmative. Consequently, we order the entry of judgment for the defendant.

The facts included by the judge in his report are these. There was a contract between Dooley and the plaintiff's employer to repair portions of Dooley's home. The plaintiff, in the course of his employment, was doing carpentry work at Dooley's home. On October 25, 1976, the plaintiff fell fourteen feet from the second-floor porch, landing on the lawn and sustaining injuries.

Page 664

The plaintiff filed a claim for workmen's compensation. Included in his claim were injuries to his back. The defendant in the present suit was not a party to that action. A single member of the board found, inter alia, that the plaintiff's back problems were unrelated to the 1976 accident. The member ordered that the plaintiff receive "temporary total incapacity compensation benefits" from October 25, 1976, to June 1, 1977, based on disabilities stemming from shoulder, rib, and thigh injuries. On appeal, the reviewing board adopted the findings and decision of the single member. The plaintiff appealed the board's decision to the Superior Court. The decision of the board was affirmed. On further appeal, the Appeals Court summarily affirmed the decision of the Superior Court. Martin's Case, 11 Mass.App.Ct. 1041 (1981).

In the present case against the estate of the homeowner, the defendant has asserted the defense of collateral estoppel. The [401 Mass. 61] judicial doctrine of issue preclusion, also known as collateral estoppel, provides that "[w]hen an issue of fact or law is actually litigated and determined by a valid and final judgment, and the determination is essential to the judgment, the determination is conclusive in a subsequent action between the parties, whether on the same or a different claim." Fireside Motors, Inc. v. Nissan Motor Corp. in U.S.A., 395 Mass. 366, 372, 479 N.E.2d 1386 (1985), quoting Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 27 (1982). See Fidler v. E.M. Parker Co., 394 Mass. 534, 539, 476 N.E.2d 595 (1985), and cases cited. The purpose of the doctrine is to conserve judicial resources, to prevent the unnecessary costs associated with multiple litigation, and to ensure the finality of judgments. See Massachusetts Property Ins. Underwriting Ass'n v. Norrington, 395 Mass. 751, 756, 481 N.E.2d 1364 (1985). In certain circumstances, mutuality of parties is not required. A nonparty may use collateral estoppel defensively against a party to the original action, who had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issues in question. Home Owners Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Northwestern Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 354 Mass. 448, 455, 238 N.E.2d 55 (1968). See Fireside Motors, Inc., supra; Fidler, supra, 394 Mass. at 541, 476 N.E.2d 595.

So long as there is an identity of issues, a finding adverse to the original party against whom it is being asserted, and a "judgment on the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction," Almeida v. Travelers Ins. Co., 383 Mass. 226, 229, 418 N.E.2d 602 (1981), quoting Franklin v. North Weymouth Coop. Bank, 283 Mass. 275, 280, 186 N.E. 641 (1933), collateral estoppel may apply. Generally, this last condition means that the tribunal rendering judgment must have authority by law to adjudicate the controversy. Harker v. Holyoke, 390 Mass. 555, 560, 457 N.E.2d 1115 (1983). Almeida, supra, 383 Mass. at 230, 418 N.E.2d 1115. "Where power or jurisdiction over a subject is delegated to any public officer or tribunal and its exercise is confided to his or their discretion, the facts necessarily established by...

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  • Chestnut Hill Dev. Corp. v. Otis Elevator Co., Civ. A. No. 86-1387-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • June 18, 1990
    ...from relitigating an issue that a court has already decided in another proceeding. Id. at 326 n. 5, 99 S.Ct. at 649 n. 5; Martin v. Ring, 401 Mass. 59, 61, 514 N.E.2d 663 (1987); Boyd, 739 F. Supp. 698 7 Mass.App.Ct. at 159, 386 N.E.2d 775; Associated, 642 F.Supp. at 1442; Kalman v. Berlyn ......
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    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • October 11, 1991
    ...the determination is conclusive in a subsequent action between the parties, whether on the same or a different claim. Martin v. Ring, 401 Mass. 59, 514 N.E.2d 663, 664 (1987) (quoting Fireside Motors, Inc. v. Nissan Motor Corp., 395 Mass. 366, 372, 479 N.E.2d 1386 (1985) (quoting Restatemen......
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    ...the Massachusetts doctrine of collateral estoppel from relitigating the issue of Garmon preemption in federal court. See Martin v. Ring, 401 Mass. 59, 514 N.E.2d 663, 664 (1987) (collateral estoppel requires, inter alia, a final judgment on the merits). Massachusetts courts do accord final ......
  • Trenwick Am. Reinsurance Corp. v. Swasey (In re Swasey), Case No. 11-20627-JNF
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. First Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Massachusetts
    • February 14, 2013
    ...him an opportunity to relitigate the issue.' " Treglia v. MacDonald, 430 Mass. 237, 717 N.E.2d 249, 253 (1999) (quoting Martin v. Ring, 401 Mass. 59, 514 N.E.2d 663 (1987)).Stanley-Snow, 405 B.R. at 18. With respect to the instant matter, there can be no dispute that there was a valid and f......
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