Final Judgment Rule

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T&R Painting Construction, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. 23 Cal.App.4th 738, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 199
Cal.App. 2 Dist.,1994.

1. “One Final Judgment Rule”
[2] [pic]Initially, St. Paul contends that this action is barred by the “one final judgment” rule. In support of its argument, St. Paul cites cases which set forth the doctrine of res judicata. St. Paul reasons that the judgment T & R obtained against Capitol after arbitration precludes any subsequent proceedings against St. Paul because a second action between the same parties on the same claim is impermissible (citing Clark v. Lesher (1956) 46 Cal.2d 874, 880, 299 P.2d 865).

[3] [pic][4] [pic]The two concepts to which St. Paul alludes are somewhat intertwined. The “one final judgment” rule prevents piecemeal dispositions and multiple appeals by requiring a final (as opposed to interlocutory) judgment before an appeal may lie. (9 Witkin, Cal.Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Appeal, § 43, pp. 66-67.) The doctrine of res judicata also addresses the issue of finality: it gives conclusive effect to final judgments in subsequent litigation between the same parties over the same controversy. (7 Witkin, Cal.Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Judgment, §§ 188-189, pp. 621-622.)

[5] [pic]Obviously, Capitol and St. Paul are not, strictly speaking, the “same parties.” As principal and surety, respectively, they have a unity of interest. Because of the nature of the principal/surety relationship, the courts have carved out a special rule for cases involving sureties and other parties having a unity of interest. The rule is that when one party to a judgment has a unity of interest with another party whose rights are not determined by the judgment, no appeal lies until the rights or duties of the interested party have been resolved by a final judgment. ( Millsap v. Federal Express Corp. (1991) 227 Cal.App.3d 425, 430, fn. 2, 277 Cal.Rptr. 807; Fleuret v. Hale Constr. Co. (1970) 12 Cal.App.3d 227, 230, 90 Cal.Rptr. 557; Call...
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