Res Judicata, also known as claim preclusion, is a Latin term that literally means “for a matter judged.” In the legal system, res judicata is a doctrine that prohibits a second lawsuit from being filed for a matter that has already been judged or decided on the merits. Once parties to a lawsuit have had the opportunity to be heard by the court and the court rules on the claims asserted in the lawsuit, those parties are generally not ever again allowed to bring a lawsuit against the same parties for the same claims that arose from the same transaction or occurrence.
Res judicata prohibited a Mandeville, Louisiana man, George Cepriano, Jr., from being allowed to file a lawsuit against Lowe’s Home Center (Lowe’s). But, Mr. Cepriano, never personally filed the first lawsuit against Lowe’s. Mr. Cepriano’s lawsuit against Lowe’s was not barred solely due to res judicata, but due to an already adjudged class action lawsuit of which Mr. Cepriano was a class member. A class action lawsuit permits one or more people to bring a lawsuit on behalf of all class members. A class action ruling results in a res judicata blanket application for all members of the class.
Mr. Cepriano’s journey to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal began after he bought a newly built home in Mandeville, Louisiana. About two years later, while trying to sell the home to a potential buyer, Mr. Cepriano learned the home was manufactured with defective Chinese-made drywall. Mr. Cepriano filed a lawsuit against Diamond Investments of Louisiana, L.L.C., the property seller, and B Square Builders, L.L.C., the contractor/builder, and Lowe’s.