Slater v. Blackwood

15 Cal. 3d 791, 126 Cal. Rptr. 225, 543 P.2d 593 (1975)

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Slater v. Blackwood

California Supreme Court
15 Cal. 3d 791, 126 Cal. Rptr. 225, 543 P.2d 593 (1975)

Facts

In 1969, Slater, a minor (plaintiff), while riding as a guest in a car driven by Blackwood (defendant), was injured when the car was involved in an accident. Slater sued Blackwood for his injuries, but the court dismissed the action because, at the time, the California Guest Statute did not allow recovery unless the accident resulted in the death of the claimant or was caused by the defendant’s intoxication or willful misconduct. The court of appeal affirmed, and the supreme court denied a hearing in 1972. In Brown v. Merlo, the supreme court held that the guest statute was unconstitutional. After that, Slater filed a new complaint against Blackwood based on the same accident, but this time alleging negligence and arguing that the decision in Brown should be applied retroactively. Blackwood argued that Slater’s claim was barred under the doctrine of res judicata. The trial court agreed with Blackwood. Slater appealed and argued that his earlier lawsuit was based on a different cause of action and in the alternative, the court should reject res judicata in the interest of justice and fairness.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Richardson, J.)

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