Herrick v. Statewide Abstract
Justice Francesca Connolly
Plaintiffs sued Statewide Abstract for indemnification or contribution for damages against plaintiffs resulting from a jury verdict against it for legal malpractice from their representation of former clients, the Rojas. Statewide moved for dismissal arguing a defense based on res judicata. Rojas previously sued claiming Statewide breached its contract by failing to properly investigate title issues. Plaintiffs cross-claim against Statewide, alleging that if plaintiffs were damaged it was caused by Statewide's negligent conduct entitling plaintiffs to judgment, was dismissed, leaving plaintiff the only defendant in Rojas' suit. Before trial, plaintiff stipulated it was negligent in its representation of Rojas. Plaintiffs now sued Statewide, and the court found both Rojas' claims and plaintiffs' cross-claim against Statewide in the prior action were predicated on the same claims as this suit. The issue of whether Statewide performed a faulty title search was specifically raised in the prior action and was decided against plaintiffs, who had a full and fair opportunity to litigate, thus were precluded from renewing those claims in this litigation. Hence, plaintiffs' claims against Statewide were dismissed based on res judicata and collateral estoppel.