Semtek Int'l Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 531 U.S. 497, 6 (2001)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  Next



Opinion of the Court

of [a particular] claim" before the court. Restatement 19, Comment a, at 161. That connotation remains common to every jurisdiction of which we are aware. See ibid. ("The prototyp[ical] [judgment on the merits is] one in which the merits of [a party's] claim are in fact adjudicated [for or] against the [party] after trial of the substantive issues"). And it is, we think, the meaning intended in those many statements to the effect that a judgment "on the merits" triggers the doctrine of res judicata or claim preclusion. See, e. g., Parklane Hosiery Co. v. Shore, 439 U. S. 322, 326, n. 5 (1979) ("Under the doctrine of res judicata, a judgment on the merits in a prior suit bars a second suit involving the same parties or their privies based on the same cause of action"); Goddard v. Security Title Ins. & Guarantee Co., 14 Cal. 2d 47, 51, 92 P. 2d 804, 806 (1939) ("[A] final judgment, rendered upon the merits by a court having jurisdiction of the cause . . . is a complete bar to a new suit between [the parties or their privies] on the same cause of action" (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)).

But over the years the meaning of the term "judgment on the merits" "has gradually undergone change," R. Marcus, M. Redish, & E. Sherman, Civil Procedure: A Modern Approach 1140-1141 (3d ed. 2000), and it has come to be applied to some judgments (such as the one involved here) that do not pass upon the substantive merits of a claim and hence do not (in many jurisdictions) entail claim-preclusive effect. Compare, e. g., Western Coal & Mining Co. v. Jones, 27 Cal. 2d 819, 826, 167 P. 2d 719, 724 (1946), and Koch v. Rodlin Enterprises, Inc., 223 Cal. App. 3d 1591, 1596, 273 Cal. Rptr. 438, 441 (1990), with Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U. S. 211, 228 (1995) (statute of limitations); Goddard, supra, at 50-51, 92 P. 2d, at 806-807, and Allston v. Incorporated Village of Rockville Centre, 25 App. Div. 2d 545, 546, 267 N. Y. S. 2d 564, 565-566 (1966), with Federated Department Stores, Inc. v. Moitie, 452 U. S. 394, 399, n. 3 (1981) (demurrer or failure to state a claim). See also Restatement 19, Com-

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007