Same but different

The plaintiff in Bradberry v. Jefferson County, Texas alleged that he was terminated from his job as a county corrections officer, in violation of federal law, because he was called to service in the Army Reserve during Hurricane Ike.  No. 12-41040 (Oct. 17, 2013).  A key issue was whether a county administrative proceeding about his termination had collateral estoppel effect on his later federal lawsuit.  The Fifth Circuit, noting that administrative proceedings can create collateral estoppel if state law would allow it, held that the questions were different and no estoppel arose: “We conclude that a finding that Bradberry was discharged due to a disagreement about military service is not the equivalent of a finding that the County was motivated by his military status to discharge him.” While analogical reasoning from this fact-specific holding may pose challenges, it still provides a clearly-stated example of when issues become “identical” for purposes of issue preclusion.

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