“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)).

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