Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

New Hampshire v. Maine

Supreme Court of the United States

April 16, 2001, Argued ; May 29, 2001, Decided

No. 130, Orig.

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

New Hampshire brought an original action against Maine, claiming that the Piscataqua River boundary ran along the Maine shore, the entire river, and all of Portsmouth Harbor belonged to New Hampshire. Maine moved to dismiss, asserting that two prior proceedings, a 1740 boundary determination and a 1977 consent judgment entered by the United States Supreme Court, fixed the boundary at the middle of the river's main channel of navigation.

Overview

The court held judicial estoppel barred New Hampshire from asserting, contrary to its prior position, that the inland river boundary ran along the Maine shore. It was clearly inconsistent with its interpretation of the words "Middle of the River" during the 1970's litigation. In the 1977 consent decree, New Hampshire agreed that "Middle of the River" meant middle of the main navigable channel. The states had represented that the proposed judgment was in each state's best interest and the court had accepted the proposed boundary. The court's acceptance of the consent decree was a judicial function. The consent decree reasonably invested imprecise terms with definitions that give effect to the 1740 decree. Pleadings in the prior case showed New Hampshire had done a searching historical inquiry and understood the importance of the boundary. The new position was advanced not to enforce its own laws within its borders, but to adjust the border itself. Given Maine's countervailing interest in the location of the boundary, there was no broad interest of public policy giving New Hampshire the prerogative to construe "Middle of the River" differently than it did 25 years ago.

Outcome

The court granted Maine's motion to dismiss the complaint.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Civil Procedure > ... > Preclusion of Judgments > Estoppel > Collateral Estoppel

Civil Procedure > Judgments > Preclusion of Judgments > General Overview

Civil Procedure > ... > Preclusion of Judgments > Estoppel > General Overview

Civil Procedure > ... > Preclusion of Judgments > Estoppel > Judicial Estoppel

Civil Procedure > Judgments > Preclusion of Judgments > Res Judicata

HN1  Estoppel, Collateral Estoppel

Claim preclusion generally refers to the effect of a prior judgment in foreclosing successive litigation of the very same claim, whether or not relitigation of the claim raises the same issues as the earlier suit. Issue preclusion generally refers to the effect of a prior judgment in foreclosing successive litigation of an issue of fact or law actually litigated and resolved in a valid court determination essential to the prior judgment, whether or not the issue arises on the same or a different claim.

 

Civil Procedure > ... > Preclusion of Judgments > Estoppel > Judicial Estoppel

Civil Procedure > Judgments > Preclusion of Judgments > General Overview

Civil Procedure > ... > Preclusion of Judgments > Estoppel > General Overview

HN2  Estoppel, Judicial Estoppel

Where a party assumes a certain position in a legal proceeding, and succeeds in maintaining that position, he may not thereafter, simply because his interests have changed, assume a contrary position, especially if it be to the prejudice of the party who has acquiesced in the position formerly taken by him. This rule, known as judicial estoppel, generally prevents a party from prevailing in one phase of a case on an argument and then relying on a contradictory argument to prevail in another phase.

 

Civil Procedure > ... > Preclusion of Judgments > Estoppel > Judicial Estoppel

Civil Procedure > Judgments > Preclusion of Judgments > General Overview

Civil Procedure > ... > Preclusion of Judgments > Estoppel > General Overview

HN3  Estoppel, Judicial Estoppel

Because the rule of judicial estoppel is intended to prevent improper use of judicial machinery, judicial estoppel is an equitable doctrine invoked by a court at its discretion.

Access the full text caseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

532 U.S. 742 ; 121 S. Ct. 1808 ; 149 L. Ed. 2d 968 ; 2001 U.S. LEXIS 3981 ; 69 U.S.L.W. 4393; 2001 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4303; 2001 Daily Journal DAR 4303; 14 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 283

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE v. STATE OF MAINE

Prior History:  [1]  ON MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT.

Disposition: Motion to dismiss complaint granted.