The opinion of the court was delivered by: VANARTSDALEN
By a memorandum opinion and order dated January 3, 1984 I dismissed Counts I and II of plaintiff's complaint, denied the motions to dismiss Count III and granted the motions to dismiss Count IV but granted leave to plaintiff to file an amended complaint. Defendants American Seating Company, Arthur Hogan and Bruce Wright seek reconsideration of the motion only insofar as their collateral estoppel claim on Counts III and IV is concerned.
The relevant factual history of Civil Action 83-3963 and the underlying litigation, which spawned the filing of the present action, Sellers v. General Motors Corp., Civil Action 80-1847, is set forth in the memorandum opinion Sellers v. General Motors Corp., 581 F. Supp 1360 (E.D. Pa. 1984) accompanying the January 3, 1984 order. Basically, the complaint in Civil Action 83-3962 seeks damages for the alleged illegal conduct of the defendants in securing a jury verdict in favor of defendant General Motors in Civil Action 80-1847.
Defendants American Seating Company, Bruce Wright and Arthur Hogan have asked this court to reconsider the January 3, 1984 order in light of their contention that their motion to dismiss contained a collateral estoppel argument which the January 3, 1984 memorandum opinion did not address. The motion will be denied. Although the memorandum opinion did not specifically identify the collateral estoppel issue by name, I did consider that argument.
I thereafter stated that Counts I and II would be dismissed because Rule 60(b) entitles a party to proceed by motion or an independent action in equity. Plaintiff chose to proceed by motion and I held that "by choosing to proceed by a Rule 60(b) motion, plaintiff should not be permitted to relitigate the same issue by thereafter filing an action in equity." Id. at 5 (emphasis added). I chose to base my decision preventing plaintiff from relitigating the issues raised in Counts I and II on the plain reading of Rule 60(b), rather than collateral estoppel. As Rule 60(b) states, it is possible to challenge an earlier adverse decision by an independent action in equity, thus defendants' collateral estoppel argument technically missed the mark. It was because plaintiff had already chosen to proceed by motion under Rule 60(b) that he was prevented from relitigating Counts I and II in an independent action under Rule 60(b) (even though plaintiff didn't label it as such). Thus, the collateral estoppel argument advanced by defendants is represented in the January 3, 1984 memorandum opinion in those pages discussing relitigation by an independent action in equity under Rule 60(b).
Defendants have not and can not seriously contend that Counts III and IV are barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel. It is a fundamental axiom of the doctrine of collateral estoppel that the issue must have been necessary to the previous action, actually litigated and finally determined. It is evident that the civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 and the RICO claim under 18 U.S.C. § 1964 were not advanced in the earlier action at all, and were not litigated.
The motion will be denied.
Upon consideration of defendants American Seating Company, Bruce Wright and Arthur Hogan's motion for reconsideration and plaintiff's response thereto, it is ordered that the motion is denied.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw ...