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CONSTRUCTION LAW: Appellate Court holds that claim not raised in arbitration proceeding is not barred in subsequent litigation by res judicata

CONSTRUCTION LAW: Appellate Court Holds That Claim Not Raised In Arbitration Proceeding Is Not Barred In Subsequent Litigation By Res Judicata

The State of Connecticut had hired Bacon Construction Company to perform masonry work and related services at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic.  After the work was completed, Bacon filed a claim with the American Arbitration Association, and won $82,812.00 in damages for breach of contract.  The arbitrator allegedly did not make any decision on whether Bacon performed in a workmanlike manner.

The State subsequently commenced suit against Bacon alleging defects in the design, construction and installation of masonry work at the project.  The trial court denied Bacon’s motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, the Connecticut Appellate Court holds that the arbitration claim was based on an entirely different matter, and that the judgment in favor of the State of Connecticut in the current action would not nullify the arbitration award.  Accordingly, the doctrine of res judicata did not preclude the State’s claims.  “In Connecticut, the fact that a defendant in a prior action did not assert a related cause of action in that prior action does not foreclose the defendant from asserting those claims in a new action filed in the future.”  Accordingly, the Superior Court’s denial of Bacon’s summary judgment was affirmed.  A petition for certification has been filed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, and denied.

State v. Bacon Construction Co., AC 36829 (September 22, 2015)

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