Awtrey Gaudet was injured while working as a longshoreman aboard a ship owned by Sea-Land Services, Inc. (defendant). Awtrey brought suit against Sea-Land and was awarded $140,000 for his permanent disability, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Awtrey died 10 days after the judgment. Sea-Land paid the judgment to Awtrey’s estate. Thereafter Awtrey’s wife, Helen Gaudet (plaintiff), brought a wrongful-death action against Sea-Land in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The district court dismissed the claim based on res judicata. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.