United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION IN
S. Lasnik United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on “Plaintiffs'
Motion in Limine.” Dkt. # 79. In September 2016, a
state court jury determined that there was no joint venture
agreement or contract between Yadvish/Yachtfish Marine, Inc.
(“YMI”). and Holmes/Marquis International
Holdings, LLC (“MIH”) and that MIH is the
rightful owner of the vessel M SQUARED. Dkt. # 100-1.
Plaintiffs seek to exclude evidence and testimony offered to
prove that there was a joint venture agreement or that
Yadvish/YMI had an ownership interest in the vessel.
doctrine of collateral estoppel “promotes judicial
economy and serves to prevent inconvenience or harassment of
parties. Also implicated are principles of repose and
concerns about the resources entailed in repetitive
litigation.” Christensen v. Grant County Hosp.
Dist. No. 1, 152 Wn.2d 299, 306-07 (2004). Defendant
S.B. Joseph Clark opposes plaintiff's motion to exclude
evidence, arguing that the issues decided in the earlier
proceeding are not directly at issue in this litigation, that
he was not in privity with Yadvish/YMI, and that it would be
unjust to apply collateral estoppel in the circumstances
presented here. See Reninger v. State Dep't of
Corrs., 134 Wn.2d 437, 449 (1998) (stating the
“well-known” elements of collateral estoppel).
The Court disagrees. Clark has asserted a maritime lien
against the M SQUARED as the subrogee of YMI and/or as the
provider of funds to pay for necessities for the vessel.
Yadvish/YMI's interest in the M SQUARED is a critical
issue of fact with regards to this claim if, as appears to be
the case, Clark intends to argue that he advanced money for
the payment of necessities at the request of the vessel
master or one entrusted with her management. The issues
decided earlier -- that Yadvish/YMI is not the owner of the M
SQUARED and that Yadvish/YMI were not in a partnership with
the owner -- are relevant to this analysis in that they limit
the ways in which Clark can support his claim of entitlement
to a maritime lien.
extent Clark claims that he has succeeded to the interests of
Yadvish/YMI as holder of a maritime lien, the privity element
of collateral estoppel is also met. Strict identity of the
parties is not necessary if there is sufficient commonality
of interest. In re Pearsall-Stipek, 136
Wn.2d 255, 261-62 (1998).
Federal courts have deemed several relationships sufficiently
close to justify a finding of privity and, therefore,
preclusion under the doctrine of res judicata: First, a
non-party who has succeeded to a party's interest in
property is bound by any prior judgment against the party.
Second, a non-party who controlled the original suit will be
bound by the resulting judgment. Third, federal courts will
bind a non-party whose interests were represented adequately
by a party in the original suit. In addition, privity has
been found where there is a substantial identity between the
party and nonparty, where the nonparty had a significant
interest and participated in the prior action, and where the
interests of the nonparty and party are so closely aligned as
to be virtually representative. Finally, a relationship of
privity can be said to exist when there is an express or
implied legal relationship by which parties to the first suit
are accountable to non-parties who file a subsequent suit
with identical issues.
Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Reg.
Planning Agency, 322 F.3d 1064, 1082 (9th Cir. 2003)
(internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). In this case, Clark claims to have
obtained its maritime lien by subrogation through or from
Yadvish/YMI. He is therefore the successor of an interest
that was diligently pursued in the state litigation: he
cannot now relitigate an issue that his
predecessor-in-interest litigated and lost. In addition,
Clark's interest in the prior litigation was significant
(one of his claims for recovery of the $670, 000 he put into
the repair and refurbishment of the M SQUARED depends in
large part on Yadvish/YMI's rights in the vessel) and he
participated in the prior action on Yadvish/YMI's behalf.
Privity “is a legal conclusion designating a person so
identified in interest with a party to former litigation that
he represents precisely the same right in respect to the
subject matter involved.” In re
Schimmels, 127 F.3d 875, 881 (9th Cir. 1997). The
Court makes such a finding here.
there are no procedural irregularities in the state
litigation that would make it unfair to bind Clark by the
jury's determination in that case.
of the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's motion in limine is
GRANTED. The parties are collaterally estopped from
attempting to prove that there was a joint venture or
partnership between Yadvish/YMI and Holmes/Marquis
International Holdings related to the vessel M SQUARED or
that MIH is not the rightful owner of the vessel.
 Clark has also asserted claims that do
not turn on whether Yadvish/YMI had an ownership interest in
the M SQUARED and argues that collateral estoppel is
therefore inapplicable. If the state court's ownership
determination is not relevant to a particular claim, there is
no reason to suspect that the parties will attempt to
relitigate the issue: a finding regarding collateral estoppel
will make no difference as to those claims. To the extent the
parties pursue a claim or defense that requires proof of
ownership, however, that issue is identical to the one
decided in state court and estoppel may be
 Both res judicata (otherwise known as
claim preclusion) and collateral estoppel (otherwise known as
issue preclusion) require privity between the parties.
U.S. v. Bhatia, 545 ...