California Landmark Cases on Res judicata

The California Supreme Court stated: "'Res judicata' describes the preclusive effect of a final judgment on the merits. Res judicata, or claim preclusion, prevents relitigation of the same cause of action in a second suit between the same parties or parties in privity with them. . . . Under the doctrine of res judicata, if a plaintiff prevails in an action, the cause is merged into the judgment and may not be asserted in a subsequent lawsuit; a judgment for the defendant serves as a bar to further litigation of the same cause of action." (Mycogen Corp. v. Monsanto Co. (2002) 28 Cal.4th 888, 896-897; see also Citizens Planning Assn. v. City of Santa Barbara (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 1541, 1549; Code Civ. Proc., 1908, subd. (a)(2).) "'The doctrine of collateral estoppel is one aspect of the concept of res judicata. In modern usage, however, the two terms have distinct meanings.' " (Mycogen Corp. v. Monsanto Co., supra, 28 Cal.4th at pp. 896-897, fn. 7.) In contrast to the doctrine of res judicata, the doctrine of "collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, 'precludes relitigation of issues argued and decided in prior proceedings.' " (Id. at p. 896.) Under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, "'"The first action is not a complete merger or bar, but operates as an estoppel or conclusive adjudication as to such issues in the second action which were actually litigated and determined in the first action. " ' " (Murray v. Alaska Airlines, Inc. (2010) 50 Cal.4th 860, 866-867.) Res judicata applies if (1) the judgment in the prior proceeding is final and on the merits; (2) the present proceeding is on the same cause of action as the prior proceeding; and (3) the parties in the present proceeding or parties in privity with them were parties in the prior proceeding. (In re Anthony H. (2005) 129 Cal.App.4th 495, 503; Federation of Hillside & Canyon Assns. v. City of Los Angeles (2004) 126 Cal.App.4th 1180, 1202; see Busick v. Workmen's Comp. Appeals Bd. (1972) 7 Cal.3d 967, 972; Bernhard v. Bank of America (1942) 19 Cal.2d 807, 810-811.) For purposes of res judicata, the term "cause of action" refers neither to the legal theory asserted by a plaintiff nor to the remedy the plaintiff seeks. (Mycogen Corp. v. Monsanto Co., supra, 28 Cal.4th at p. 904; Slater v. Blackwood (1975) 15 Cal.3d 791, 795-796.) Instead, "California has consistently applied the 'primary rights' theory, under which the invasion of one primary right gives rise to a single cause of action." (Slater v. Blackwood, supra, 15 Cal.3d at p. 795.) The primary right theory "provides that a 'cause of action' is comprised of a 'primary right' of the plaintiff, a corresponding 'primary duty' of the defendant, and a wrongful act by the defendant constituting a breach of that duty. The most salient characteristic of a primary right is that it is indivisible: the violation of a single primary right gives rise to but a single cause of action. . . . As far as its content is concerned, the primary right is simply the plaintiff's right to be free from the particular injury suffered. " (Crowley v. Katleman (1994) 8 Cal.4th 666, 681; accord, Grisham v. Philip Morris U.S.A., Inc. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 623, 641; Boyce v. T.D. Service Co. (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 429, 435-436.) A particular injury might be compensable under multiple legal theories and might entitle a party to several forms of relief; nevertheless, it will give rise to only one cause of action. (Crowley v. Katleman, supra, 8 Cal.4th at pp. 681-682.)