Brown v. Dr. Michael D. Hoffman & Assocs

In Brown v. Dr. Michael D. Hoffman & Assocs., 111 S.W.3d 826 (Tex. App.--Dallas 2003, no pet.), a former employee (Brown) sued her former employer and his medical practice in federal court on a claim that they failed to pay money she was owed from a profit-sharing retirement plan. Brown, 111 S.W.3d at 828. The trial court entered the parties' agreed order decreeing that Brown be paid the amount owed under the plan. See id. Brown also sued the defendants in state court for breach of contract and sworn account based on a written termination agreement between the parties, in which the employer agreed to pay off Brown's mortgage on her home, buy her a new car, and give her a severance of at least $ 25,000. One of the grounds on which the defendants sought summary judgment was that the state suit was precluded by the federal judgment under res judicata. Summary judgment was granted for the defendants. The Court considered the issue whether the defendants established the requirement that both suits involved the same cause of action. See id. at 829. Applying the transactional test, the Court determined that the operative facts were not grounded in Brown's termination. Rather, "each was based on a separate and distinct contractual obligation." Id.