“Independent action in equity” avoids res judicata bar

The case of Turner v. Pleasant presented a rare attack on a judgment by an “independent action in equity.”  The underlying dispute involved a personal injury case implicated by the misconduct surrounding disgraced former judge Thomas Porteous.  Op. at 2-5.  After a clearly-written summary of the pleading requirements of Twombly and Iqbal, op. at 6-7, the Court considered whether the action could proceed, even though similar allegations were made and rejected in an earlier request for relief.   The Court reversed the dismissal of the claim and remanded, concluding that the plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged: (1) a prior judgment which ‘in equity and good conscience’ should not be enforced, (2) a meritorious claim in the underlying case, (3) fraud, accident, or mistake which prevented the party from obtaining the benefit of that claim, (4) lack of fault or negligence by the party, and (5) absence of an adequate remedy at law.  Op. at 5-10 (citing and contrasting Addington v. Farmer’s Elevator Mutual, 650 F.3d 663 (5th Cir. 1981)).

Claim preclusion found in guaranty suit

The case of Weaver v. Texas Capital Bank first presented a jurisdictional question under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.  Texas Capital Bank had obtained a state court default judgment against a guarantor, and contended that the guarantor’s later adversary proceeding attacking the basis for that liability was an impermissible federal attack on a final state court judgment.  The Court disagreed, finding that Rooker-Feldman was not implicated.  Op. at 5-7.  The Court went on to reverse, however, finding that the guarantor’s arguments to the bankruptcy court were defenses to the earlier state court action and thus barred by claim preclusion.  Op. at 8-11.  The opinion thoroughly reviews Texas claim preclusion law and its “transactional” approach to the application of the compulsory counterclaim rule.