Parsons Steel, Inc v. First Alabama Bank, 84-1616

Decision Date27 January 1986
Docket NumberNo. 84-1616,84-1616
PartiesPARSONS STEEL, INC., et al., Petitioners v. FIRST ALABAMA BANK and Edward Herbert
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Syllabus

Petitioners sued respondents in an Alabama state court, alleging that respondent bank had fraudulently induced petitioner individuals to permit a third person to take control of a subsidiary of petitioner corporation and eventually to obtain complete ownership. Subsequently, the subsidiary was adjudicated an involuntary bankrupt. Petitioners then sued the bank in Federal District Court, alleging that the same conduct on the bank's part that was the subject of the state suit violated the Bank Holding Company Act (BHCA) amendments. The federal action went to trial before the state action, and the District Court granted judgment n.o.v. for the bank. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Thereafter, respondents pleaded a res judicata defense in the state action based on the federal judgment, but the Alabama court denied the defense. After the state complaint was amended to include a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) claim that the bank's foreclosure sale of the subsidiary's assets was commercially unreasonable, the jury returned a verdict for damages in petitioners' favor. Respondents then returned to the District Court and filed an injunctive action against petitioners. Holding that the state fraud and UCC claims should have been raised in the federal action as pendent to the BHCA claim and accordingly that the BHCA judgment barred the state claims under res judicata, the District Court enjoined petitioners from further prosecuting the state action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the parties to the BHCA action were barred by res judicata from raising the state claims in state court after the entry of the federal judgment, and that the federal injunction was proper under the "relitigation exception" to the Anti-Injunction Act, which generally prohibits a federal court from enjoining state proceedings but excepts from the prohibition the issuance of an injunction by a federal court "where necessary . . . to protect or effectuate its judgments." The court did not consider the possible preclusive effect under Alabama law of the state court's resolution of the res judicata issue, holding instead that the "relitigation exception" to the Anti-Injunction Act worked a pro tanto amendment to the Full Faith and Credit Act, which requires federal courts as well as state courts to give state judicial proceedings "the same full faith and credit . . . as they have by law or usage in the courts of such State . . . from which they are taken."

Held: The Court of Appeals erred by refusing to consider the possible preclusive effect under Alabama law of the state-court judgment. Even if the state court mistakenly rejected respondents' res judicata claim, this would not justify the highly intrusive remedy of a federal-court injunction against enforcement of the state-court judgment. Rather, the Full Faith and Credit Act requires that the federal courts give the state-court judgment, and particularly the state court's resolution of the res judicata issue, the same preclusive effect it would have in another court of the same State. Pp. 523-526.

747 F.2d 1367, reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Frank M. Wilson, Montgomery, Ala., for petitioners.

M. Roland Nachman, Jr., Montgomery, Ala., for respondents.

Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Full Faith and Credit Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738, requires federal courts as well as state courts to give state judicial proceedings "the same full faith and credit . . . as they have by law or usage in the courts of such State . . . from which they are taken." The Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, generally prohibits a federal court from granting an injunction to stay proceedings in a state court, but excepts from that prohibition the issuance of an injunction by a federal court "where necessary . . . to protect or effectuate its judgments." In the present case the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the quoted exception to the latter Act worked a pro tanto amendment to the former, so that a federal court might issue an injunction against state-court proceedings even though the prevailing party in the federal suit had litigated in the state court and lost on the res judicata effect of the federal judgment. We granted certiorari to consider this question, 472 U.S. 1026, 105 S.Ct. 3497, 87 L.Ed.2d 629 (1985), and now reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Petitioners Parsons Steel, Inc., and Jim and Melba Parsons sued respondents First Alabama Bank of Montgomery and Edward Herbert, a bank officer, in Alabama state court in February 1979, essentially alleging that the bank had fraudulently induced the Parsonses to permit a third person to take control of a subsidiary of Parsons Steel and eventually to obtain complete ownership of the subsidiary. The subsidiary was adjudicated an involuntary bankrupt in April 1979, and the trustee in bankruptcy was added as a party plaintiff in the state action. In May 1979 Parsons Steel and the Parsonses sued the bank in the United States District Court for the District of Alabama, alleging that the same conduct on the part of the bank that was the subject of the state-court suit also violated the Bank Holding Company Act (BHCA) amendments, 12 U.S.C. §§ 1971-1978. The trustee in bankruptcy chose not to participate in the federal action.

The parties conducted joint discovery in the federal and state actions. The federal action proceeded to trial on the issue of liability before the state action went to trial. A jury returned a verdict in favor of petitioners, but the District Court granted judgment n.o.v. to the bank. That judgment was affirmed on appeal. Parsons Steel, Inc. v. First Alabama Bank of Montgomery, 679 F.2d 242 (CA11 1982). After the federal judgment was entered, respondents pleaded in the state action the defenses of res judicata and collateral estoppel based on that judgment. The Alabama court, however, ruled that res judicata did not bar the state action. Almost a year after the federal judgment was entered, the state complaint was amended to include a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) claim that the bank's foreclosure sale of the subsidiary's assets was commercially unreasonable. A jury returned a general verdict in favor of petitioners, awarding a total of four million and one dollars in damages.

Having lost in state court, respondents returned to the District Court that had previously entered judgment in the bank's favor and filed the present injunctive action against petitioners, the plaintiffs in the state action.1 The District Court found that the federal BHCA suit and the state action were based on the same factual allegations and claimed substantially the same damages. The court held that the state claims should have been raised in the federal action as pendent to the BHCA claim and accordingly that the BHCA judgment barred the state claims under res judicata. Determining that the Alabama judgment in effect nullified the earlier federal-court judgment in favor of the bank, the District Court enjoined petitioners from further prosecuting the state action.

A divided panel of the Court of Appeals affirmed in relevant part, holding that the issuance of the injunction was not "an abuse of discretion" by the District Court. 747 F.2d 1367, 1381 (1980). The majority first agreed with the District Court that the fraud and UCC claims presented issues of fact and law that could have been and should have been raised in the same action as the BHCA claim. Thus the parties to the BHCA action and their privies, including the trustee in bankruptcy, were barred by res judicata from raising these claims in state court after the entry of the federal judgment.

The majority then held that the injunction was proper under the so-called "relitigation exception" to the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, which provides:

"A court of the United States may not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments" (emphasis added).

In reaching this holding, the majority explicitly declined to consider the possible preclusive effect, pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738,2 of the state court's determination after full litigation by the parties that the earlier federal-court judgment did not bar the state action. According to the majority, "while a federal court is generally bound by other state court determinations, the relitigation exception empowers a federal court to be the final adjudicator as to the res judicata effects of its prior judgments on a subsequent state action." 747 F.2d, at 1376 (footnote omitted).

Finally, the majority ruled that respondents had not waived their right to an injunction by waiting until after the trial in the state action was completed. The majority concluded that the state-court pleadings were so vague that it was not clear until after trial that essentially the same cause of action was involved as the BHCA claim and that the earlier federal judgment was in danger of being nullified. According to the majority, the Anti-Injunction Act does not limit the power of a federal court to protect its judgment "to specific points in time in state court trials or appellate procedure." Id., at 1377.3

The dissenting judge rejected "the majority's conclusion that the Anti-Injunction Act . . . implicitly amended the Full Faith and Credit Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738." Id., at 1381 (Hill, J., dissenting). He agreed with the majority that "section 2283 allows the district court to enter an injunction, perhaps grounded in the concept of res judicata, unless the state court has already addressed the res...

To continue reading

Request your trial
429 cases
  • In re Falk
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Minnesota
    • July 27, 1988
    ...is proper." First Alabama Bank v. Parsons Steel, Inc., 747 F.2d 1367, 1378 (11th Cir.1984), rev'd on other grounds, 474 U.S. 518, 106 S.Ct. 768, 88 L.Ed.2d 877 (1986). See Gill and Duffus Services, Inc. v. A.M. Nural Islam, 675 F.2d 404, 405 (D.C.Cir.1982); Oldham v. Pritchett, 599 F.2d 274......
  • Dynomite Mktg., LLC v. Dowd (In re Dowd), Case No. 17-60610-WLH
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • April 17, 2020
    ...v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 293, 125 S.Ct. 1517, 161 L.Ed.2d 454 (2005) (quoting Parsons Steel, Inc. v. First Ala. Bank, 474 U.S. 518, 523, 106 S.Ct. 768, 88 L.Ed.2d 877 (1986) ). "A bankruptcy court may not apply collateral estoppel to ‘the ultimate issue of dischargeability......
  • US v. Lewis
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
    • September 5, 1996
    ...court judgments the collateral estoppel effect that another court of that state would give. Parsons Steel, Inc. v. First Alabama Bank, 474 U.S. 518, 523, 106 S.Ct. 768, 771, 88 L.Ed.2d 877 (1986); Isaac v. Schwartz, 706 F.2d 15 (1st Cir.1983). Florida law recognizes collateral estoppel when......
  • Besing, Matter of
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • February 4, 1993
    ...212, 217 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 112 S.Ct. 657, 116 L.Ed.2d 748 (1991); see Parsons Steel, Inc. v. First Alabama Bank, 474 U.S. 518, 523, 106 S.Ct. 768, 771, 88 L.Ed.2d 877 (1986); Marrese v. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 470 U.S. 373, 380, 105 S.Ct. 1327, 1331,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 books & journal articles
  • Forum shopping for arbitration decisions: federal courts' use of antisuit injunctions against state courts.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 147 No. 1, November 1998
    • November 1, 1998
    ...the same effect that it would have in the courts of the State in which it was rendered."); Parsons Steel, Inc. v. First Ala. Bank, 474 U.S. 518, 519 (1986) (same); Marrese v. American Acad. of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 470 U.S. 373, 380 (1985) (same); Kremer, 456 U.S. at 466-67 & n.6 (same)......
  • Table of Cases
    • United States
    • The Path of Constitutional Law Suplemmentary Materials
    • January 1, 2007
    ...1452 Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 68 L.Ed.2d 240 (1981), 223, 1288, 1300 Parsons Steel, Inc. v. First Alabama Bank, 474 U.S. 518, 106 S.Ct. 768, 88 L.Ed.2d 877 (1986), Pasadena City Bd. of Ed. v. Spangler, 427 U.S. 424, 96 S.Ct. 2697, 49 L.Ed.2d 599 (1976), 1125 Patane, ......
  • Removal jurisdiction and the All Writs Act.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 148 No. 2, December 1999
    • December 1, 1999
    ...in the suit now pending before the Court were all parties in the Volpe case or their predecessors in interest were parties"). (136) 474 U.S. 518 (137) 486 U.S. 140 (1988). (138) See infra Part III (arguing that use of the All Writs Act as a source of removal jurisdiction disrupts the balanc......
  • The taking issue in the Ninth Circuit after Lucas.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 24 No. 3, July 1994
    • July 1, 1994
    ...$S 1738 (1988 & Supp. IV 1992). (111.) Palomar Mobilehome Park Ass'n, 989 F.2d at 364 (quoting Parsons Steel v. First Alabama Bank, 474 U.S. 518, 523 (1986)). (112.) Id. In California, a judgment sustaining a general demurrer is a judgment on the merits. See, e.g., Crowley v. Modern Fau......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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