RES JUDICATA AND SUBROGATION - EX PARTE LARRY WEBBER
Ex parte Larry Webber [Ms. 1121443, June 27, 2014] __ So. 3d. __ (Ala. 2014). Petition for Writ of Mandamus. Res judicata bars a wife's action and an insurer's action as subrogee. Here, a married man sued a paint contractor for $3,000 in Small Claims court for alleged damages to the couple's home. The plaintiff's wife was aware of the suit, but did not join it. A judgment was entered against the defendant that he timely paid. Subsequently, the couple filed a claim with State Farm and was paid $41,996.19. The couple and State Farm then filed an action against the paint contractor. The defendant argued that the action was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The elements of res judicata are: "(1) a prior judgment on the merits, (2) rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, (3) with substantial identity of the parties, and (4) with the same cause of action in both actions." The Court held that all four elements of res judicata were met, therefore, both the husband and wife were barred from bringing the new action. Turning its attention to State Farm, the Court held "because [State Farm's] claim is based solely on its rights as a subrogee, it steps into the shoes of [the couple] and...only gets those rights that [the couple] ha[s]. Thus, "State Farm is likewise barred from participation in the circuit-court action."
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