What Is the Purpose of ''Res Judicata'' In Texas ?

Res judicata prevents the relitigation of a claim or cause of action that has been finally adjudicated, as well as related matters that, with the use of diligence, should have been litigated in the earlier suit. Amstadt v. U.S. Brass Corp., 919 S.W.2d 644, 652 (Tex. 1996). The claim of res judicata requires proof of the following: (1) a prior final judgment on the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) identity of parties or those in privity with them; (3) a second action based on the same claims as were raised or could have been raised in the first action. Id. The broad doctrine of res judicata encompasses two distinct principles: (1) res judicata, or claim preclusion; (2) collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion. Barr v. Resolution Trust Corp, 837 S.W.2d 627, 628 (Tex. 1992). Because the issue in this case is Columbia's ability to bring an entire claim against Stover, we look first at the claim preclusion or res judicata component of the doctrine. Parties can be in privity in at least three ways: (1) they can control an action even if they are not parties to it; (2) their interests can be represented by a party to the action; (3) they can be successors in interest, deriving their claims through a party to the prior action. See id. at 653. Privity is not established by persons merely being interested in the same question or in proving the same set of facts but instead connotes those who have such an identity of interest that the party to the judgment represented the same legal right. See Benson v. Wanda Petroleum Co., 468 S.W.2d 361, 362 (Tex. 1971).