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Montana v. United States - 440 U.S. 147, 99 S. Ct. 970, 59 L. Ed. 2d 210, 1979 U.S. LEXIS 27

Rule:

Preclusion is appropriate when consecutive cases address the same issue.

Facts:

The U.S. brought a suit against Montana for charging a tax on contractors who were working on public construction projects. This case was defendant on the outcome of another case,Peter Kiewit Sons’ Co. v. State Board of Equalization (1973), being tried under the same issue. The Montana Supreme Court ruled, favoring the tax and Kiewit filed another complaint requesting refunds of taxes that were not at issue in the original lawsuit. The court dismissed the second complaint on the basis of res judicata. In the case against Montana, the court held that Kiewit was not binding and ruled the tax unconstitutional. 

Issue:

Was preclusion appropriate where consecutive cases address the same issue?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The issues raised in Kiewit were issues that were already concerning the government and the same that the government sought to resolve in a federal court case. Kiewit precluded the government from litigating the tax and the government had an opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of Kiewit

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