Frier v. City of Vandalia

770 F.2d 699 (7th Cir. 1985)

Yeazell, pp. 799-806


Facts: Frier got some of his cars towed by the city.Instead of paying the fine, he sued for replevin in state court and lost.Then he tried to sue in federal court invoking the Fourteenth Amendment.The district court dismissed the complaint, and Frier appealed to the Seventh Circuit.


Issue: Is Frierís federal claim precluded by the resolution of his state claim?


Rule: One suit precludes a second when the parties are identical and the evidence necessary to sustain a second verdict would sustain the first.


Analysis: The appellate court says that Frier already had a full and fair opportunity to litigate all the important issues.He could not have filed his present claim in state court because of issue preclusion, and thus he canít file it in federal court either.


The dissent says that claim preclusion doesnít apply here; instead, the city was entitled to summary judgment because Frierís due process claims had no merit.


Swygert claims that the first suit by Frier was substantive, while this one is procedural.Under the old version of the preclusion rules, unlike under the Restatement of Judgments, only the specific thing that was previously litigated is precluded from further litigation.Swygert says that Illinois courts wouldnít find claim preclusion.(Why donít they just get an opinion from the Illinois Supreme Court?)


Then Swygert says that Frier received enough due process anyway, so he would come to the same conclusion as Easterbrook and the majority.


Conclusion: The district courtís dismissal is affirmed.


Notes and Problems



a.      The majority doesnít reject his constitutional claim, they just say he should have brought it up before.

b.     I donít think that claim has ever been litigated.

c.     It may not be totally fair, but it is efficient to such a degree that it outweighs the equity aspect.


a.      It looks like it might be an Erie issue.Illinois precludes a much narrower range of claims than the Restatement.Thatís because old-school common law pleading was stricter, whereas modern pleading is pretty loose.Therefore, modern preclusion tends to be stricter.

b.     Why is this common law when everything else is a rule?Why not just write down the prevailing common law rule and thus codify the existing right?

c.     Okay.



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