State v. Miller

In State v. Miller, 194 W. Va. 3, 459 S.E.2d 114 (1995), the Court examined the doctrine of collateral estoppel and in Syllabus Point 1 concluded that: Collateral estoppel will bar a claim if four conditions are met: (1) The issue previously decided is identical to the one presented in the action in question; (2) there is a final adjudication on the merits of the prior action; (3) the party against whom the doctrine is invoked was a party or in privity with a party to a prior action; and (4) the party against whom the doctrine is raised had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior action. In analyzing the first of these elements in the Miller case, the Court concluded that: In our view, for purposes of issue preclusion, issues and procedures are not identical or similar if the second action involves application of a different legal standard or substantially different procedural rules, even though the factual settings of both suits may be the same. (State v. Miller, id. at 10, 459 S.E.2d at 121.) The Court rejected the defendant's argument that her battery conviction should be overturned because the State was collaterally estopped from prosecuting her for the offense. The defendant in Miller argued that an administrative law judge's determination, which had been affirmed on appeal to the circuit court, that her employer failed to prove she engaged in patient abuse on February 10, 1992, precluded a criminal prosecution arising from the same incident. Miller, 194 W.Va. 3, 8-9, 459 S.E.2d 114, 119-20 (1995).