Spears v. Elder
Collateral estoppel prohibits the relitigation of an issue when the issue was actually litigated or decided in a prior action between the same parties. The plaintiff attorney, Wesley Spears, sued the defendant attorney, Joseph Elder, alleging defamation and fraud, because Elder allegedly impersonated Spears during a telephone conversation with a police officer, and the police officer filed a grievance against Spears. A jury awarded the plaintiff general damages of $32,000 and punitive damages of $41,000, plus interest. The defendant appealed, and the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed. Attorney Spears filed a judgment lien on Attorney Elder's real property and sought to foreclose the lien. Attorney Elder filed an answer and special defenses, arguing that the underlying judgment was not valid, because the plaintiff allegedly tampered with a defense witness and persuaded her not to testify. Attorney Elder argued that if the underlying judgment was obtained as a result of fraud, the court should exercise its discretion and permit a re-trial of the underlying matter. The court found that this issue was actually litigated. As a result, the defendant is estopped from collaterally attacking the underlying judgment on this basis. The court granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment with respect to liability.