Hart v. Am. Airlines, Inc.

61 Misc. 2d 41, 304 N.Y.S.2d 810 (Sup. Ct. 1969)



There are two requirements necessary to invoke the doctrine of collateral estoppel: "identity of issue" and "full and fair opportunity to contest."


Plaintiff's parents died in an airplane crash and filed a case against the airline for liability in Texas. The plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment with the Supreme Court of New York on the issue of collateral estoppel. Plaintiff contended determination of defendant's liability in a Texas court, under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, was conclusive on the issue of defendant's liability for such crash in the actions brought by the plaintiffs. 


Is the issue of defendant's liability conclusive on the basis of collateral estoppel?




The court stated that the issue of defendant airline's liability for the crash in which plaintiff's decedents perished was identical to the issue of liability litigated in the Texas action where defendant was similarly charged with responsibility for that same accident.The court granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment stating that the defendant had a full and fair opportunity to contest the issue of its liability in the course of the Texas action, and in order to defeat collateral estoppel on this ground, the burden rested on defendant to show that it had no such opportunity.

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