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PNC entitled to summary judgment under res judicata

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the Marion Superior Court that granted summary judgment in favor of the defense in Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., f/k/a Wachovia Commercial Mortgage Inc. v. PNC Bank, N.A. f/k/a National City Bank of Indiana, 49A02-1111-PL-1004.

In this lawsuit, Wells Fargo alleged breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, breach of duty to deal in good faith, tortious injury to property interest, slander of title, and bad faith. The Court of Appeals judges had to decide whether the trial court erred when it found that the claims asserted in Wells Fargo’s complaint are barred by res judicata.

On appeal, Wells Fargo maintained that res judicata did not bar its claims because claim preclusion does not apply because there is no privity of parties or mutuality of estoppel, and Wells Fargo is not asserting the same claims as decided in a prior matter and resolved by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The COA disagreed.

“In sum, National City and (Paula) Phillips are in privity for purposes of the instant action, and the issues are the same for purposes of res judicata. Wells Fargo does not dispute that the other two elements of claim preclusion are satisfied here. The trial court did not err when it concluded that National City is entitled to summary judgment under the doctrine of res judicata,” Judge Edward Najam Jr. wrote, with Judges Patricia Riley and Carr Darden concurring.

The facts and procedural history underlying the instant action were set out in Money Store Investment Corp. v. Summers, 849 N.E.2d 544 (Ind. 2006), in which Paula Phillips sued Neal Summers and the company in which he was sole shareholder regarding the ownership of the trademark/trade name “Paula’s Seafood.” They entered into a written settlement agreement in 1999 and the suit was later dismissed without prejudice. Money Store involves the foreclosure of mortgages owned by Summers.

 

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