October 8, 2019
FLORIDA COURT REJECTS SECOND LAWSUIT
Not properly framing all your potential lawsuit claims can be fatal to them. Recently, a federal court in Florida considered a dispute between a plaintiff party (the “plaintiff”) and Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. (the “defendant”). The plaintiff leased a property to the defendant for twenty years, and a building on the property was demolished after a fire. The plaintiff first filed suit against the defendant seeking damages for the defendant’s alleged failure to rebuild the building after the fire (“First Lawsuit”). The court handling the First Lawsuit entered a final judgment. The plaintiff later sued the defendant alleging that the defendant failed to obtain insurance that satisfied the requirements of the lease (“Second Lawsuit”). The defendant moved to dismiss the Second Lawsuit under, among other things, the doctrine of “claim splitting” (that the plaintiff’s claims were improperly split between two lawsuits). The court stated that “[t]his Court entered a final judgment in the prior suit between [the plaintiff and the defendant], and thus the Court need not analyze whether this suit is barred by improper claim splitting.” Instead, the court found the Second Lawsuit barred by claim preclusion. The court found that the plaintiff’s two cases were between the same parties, the First Lawsuit was decided by a court of competent jurisdiction that rendered a final judgment, and that the Second Lawsuit’s claims arise out of the same causes of action. Accordingly, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case under the doctrine of claim preclusion and directed the clerk to close the case.