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wrongful death

In Bernhard v. Bank of America (1942) 19 Cal.2d 807, 122 P.2d 892, this court
rejected the mutuality doctrine and recognized the twofold aspect of res judicata. We
there pointed out that the doctrine not only bars relitigation of the same cause of action
once a final determination has been made by a court of competent jurisdiction, but it
also precludes a reexamination as between the parties or their privies of any issue
necessarily decided if the issue is involved in any subsequent lawsuit brought on a
different cause of action.
In Secrest v. Pacific Electric Ry. Co. (1943) 60 Cal.App.2d 746, 141 P.2d 747.
There, the widow of the deceased brought a wrongful death action for injuries
sustained when the car the deceased was driving, and in which she was a passenger,
collided with defendant's bus. Both the widow and the deceased had previously filed a
complaint for personal injuries arising out of the same collision, which resulted in a jury
verdict for the defendant. The court recognized that the action for wrongful death is a
separate cause of action which belongs to the heirs. Nonetheless, the court concluded
that a prior adverse judgment against the deceased in a personal injury action bars a
subsequent wrongful death action based upon the same facts, because the prior
action “ ‘negatives the existence of conditions which would charge the defendant with
responsibility for the death.
In Zaragosa v. Craven, 33 Cal. 2d 315, 321, 202 P.2d 73, 77 (1949) The fact that
the cause of action for injuries to the wife is different from the cause of action for
injuries to the husband is here immaterial. ‘By virtue of the doctrine of res judicata, the
final determination of a court of competent jurisdiction necessarily affirming the
existence of any fact is conclusive evidence of the existence of that fact when it is
again in issue in subsequent litigation between the same parties in the same or any
other court. The facts decided in the first suit cannot be disputed or relitigated,
although the later suit is upon a different cause of action.
The doctrine of res judicata has a double aspect. A former judgment operates as
a bar against a second action upon the same cause, but, in a later action upon a
different claim or cause of action, it operates as an estoppel or conclusive adjudication
as to such issues in the second action as were actually litigated and determined in the
first action.’
“Collateral estoppel precludes relitigation of issues argued and decided in prior
proceedings. [Citation.] Traditionally, we have applied the doctrine only if several
threshold requirements are fulfilled.
First, the issue sought to be precluded from
relitigation must be identical to that decided in a former proceeding.
Second, this
issue must have been actually litigated in the former proceeding. Third, it must have
been necessarily decided in the former proceeding. Fourth, the decision in the former
proceeding must be final and on the merits. Finally, the party against whom preclusion
is sought must be the same as, or in privity with, the party to the former proceeding.”
(Lucido v. Superior Court (1990) 51 Cal.3d 335, 341, 272 Cal.Rptr. 767, 795 P.2d 1223;