The parents of this children separately sued a myriad of defendants in state court, including the manufacturer and retailer of the bus and its brakes. The families alleged that, among other failures, the brakes on the bus were defective and this was a proximate cause of the crash. The company that sold the bus was originally a party to each of these actions, but was later not named in amended complaints.
The cases were consolidated, went to trial and jurors found in favor of defendants. Later, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the bus retailer in federal court. However, the district court granted defense motion to dismiss on grounds the claim was prohibited based on a legal principle known as res judicata, which is claim preclusion. Plaintiffs appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Appellate District affirmed on the alternative grounds of collateral estoppel, which is a type of issue preclusion. Continue reading