Privity, Res Judicata, and MERS

A zealous borrower filed successive lawsuits against U.S. Bank, its attorneys, and MERS arising from a foreclosure.  Maxwell v. U.S. Bank, N.A.,13-20113 (Oct. 30, 2013, unpublished).  While MERS was not a party to the first two cases, it asserted res judicata, based on their dismissal, arguing that it was in privity with the defendants.  The Fifth Circuit cited Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880, which described how res judicata reaches “a variety of pre-existing substantive legal relationships between the person to be bound and a party to the judgment,” including “preceeding and succeeding owners of property, bailee and bailor, and assignee and assignor” as well as other relationships described as “privity.”  Here, the mortgage documents identified MERS as “nominee for” U.S. Bank, which satisfied Taylor.

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