spared the necessity of litigating its claim against one who was not a party to nor in privity with a party to the earlier litigation. A defendant who is not a party to nor in privity with a party to the earlier litigation because it has been granted a separate trial may have had the opportunity, prior to the grant of a separate trial, to prepare to litigate its claim, but it has not had an opportunity to actually so litigate until such time as the separate trial to which it is a party is held. It is precisely that opportunity which this trial will provide to the products defendants.
Also before the court is the motion of Villaneuva Compania Naviera, S.A. (Villaneuva), owner of the Corinthos, for an order prohibiting the products defendants from offering evidence in any further proceedings against the Corinthos interests concerning (1) causation of the collision resulting from the Queeny's propulsion deficiencies; (2) the knowledge and privity of the Queeny's shore management of such propulsion deficiencies, and (3) the allegations that the Corinthos contributed to the collision for failure to be equipped with an inert gas system. For the reasons to follow, the motion is denied.
Villaneuva contends that the products defendants are prevented from offering the objected to evidence by reason of collateral estoppel. According to Villaneuva, the issues of causation, inerting, and firefighting arose out of the collision of the Queeny and Corinthos and were fully and completely litigated in the limitations trial. Villaneuva asserts that the products defendants are in privity with the Queeny, which was the petitioner-plaintiff in the limitations proceedings, and that they both had a common interest in attempting to establish that the propulsion machinery of the Queeny was in proper operating condition. Villaneuva further argues that even though granted a separate trial, the products defendants "functioned as behind-the-scenes coordinators of the Queeny defense with respect to their contentions of causation, Corinthos inerting and firefighting, and so conducted themselves."
As with the motion of the Queeny interests, discussed supra, Villaneuva's motion must be denied because an essential element of collateral estoppel is missing. Despite Villaneuva's claims to the contrary, the products defendants were not party to, nor in privity with a party to the limitations proceedings. See Scooper Dooper Inc. v. Kraftco, 494 F.2d at 844. There simply is no evidence to support the bare allegations of Villaneuva that the products defendants were the behind-the-scenes coordinators of the Queeny defense and thus in privity with the Queeny. Although they both may have had an interest in attempting to establish that the propulsion machinery of the Queeny was in proper working order, the actual interests of each of them in that issue were not precisely the same, as evidenced by this very products liability action. Moreover, an identity of interests does not necessarily mean that the parties who share those interests are in privity, an inference which Villaneuva asks us to draw rather uncritically.
Villaneuva's reliance on Montana v. United States, 440 U.S. 147, 99 S. Ct. 970, 59 L. Ed. 2d 210 (1979) is inapposite. That case held that the same interests which favor the application of res judicata and collateral estoppel are "similarly implicated when non-parties assume control over litigation in which they have a direct financial or proprietary interest and then seek to redetermine issues previously resolved." Id. at 154, 99 S. Ct. at 974 (footnote omitted). The Court in Montana further stated that "the persons for whose benefit and at whose direction a cause of action is litigated cannot be said to be strangers to the cause, (and) (o)ne who prosecutes or defends a suit in the name of another to establish and protect his own right, or who assists in the prosecution or defense of an action in aid of some interest of his own ... is as much bound ... as he would be if he had been a party to the record." Id.
In this case, there is nothing, except perhaps for the assertions of Villaneuva, to suggest that the limitations proceedings were directed by the products defendants, or litigated for their benefit, or that the limitations action was actually litigated by the products defendants, in the name of the Queeny interests, in aid of its own interests. Quite unlike the Montana case, there was here no control over the prior litigation by the party who is sought to be collaterally estopped.
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