C & H Management, LLC v. City of Shelton
For res judicata purposes, a city official sued in his individual capacity in an action for money damages, was not the same party sued in a prior mandamus action as a municipal official, and the individual defendant was not in privity with the municipal official. C&H Management, LLC, was granted a writ of mandamus to compel the city of Shelton and Robert Kulacz, the city's engineer, to approve its application to construct a single-family house. C&H then brought this action against the city and Kulacz for inverse condemnation and monetary damages for allegedly violating the plaintiff's rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The trial court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment grounded on the doctrine of res judicata. The defendants appealed claiming that the court erred in denying their motion. The Appellate Court affirmed and reversed the judgment, in part, finding that the claims against the city were barred by the doctrine of res judicata, but, the claims against Kulacz, sued individually instead of in his official capacity, were not barred. For res judicata purposes, the city was the same party in both actions. But, Kulacz, sued in his individual capacity in this action, was not the same party as Kulacz, the municipal official sued in the mandamus action. Nor was the individual defendant, Kulacz, in privity with Kulacz, the municipal official. Accordingly, the action against Kulacz could not be barred by res judicata. For the claims against the city, the plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that the facts forming the basis of this action were not disclosed until the end of trial in the mandamus action, not giving it time to amend its complaint to include the claims. The Appellate Court agreed with the 2nd Circuit's holding in the 1999 case of L-Tec Electronics Corp. v. Cougar Electronic Organization, Inc., that unless a defendant fraudulently concealed the relevant facts, the "discovery of additional facts following … judgment does not block the application of res judicata…[when the] facts and events themselves arose prior to the filing of the original complaint…" Both cases arose out of the same nucleus of operative facts and contained many of the same factual allegations. Precedent did not permit a subsequent action for damages simply because the first action sought only a writ of mandamus.