A long line of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals (Second Circuit), and New York Court of Appeals, have held that, where a decision-maker makes a finding, the finding is not collateral estoppel in a subsequent proceeding unless the finding was material and decisive to the decision, even if it was raised and litigated, particularly where the decision-maker himself explicitly states that the issue was “immaterial” to his decision, and that if there is any uncertainty at all, collateral estoppel shall not apply.
Partmar Corp. v. Paramount Pictures Theatres Corp., 347 U.S. 89, 100 (1954) (“if this finding were not material to the principal action, the doctrine of collateral estoppel would not apply”).
U.S. Court of Appeals (Second Circuit) Decisions
Proctor, supra, at 414 (“necessary”); Kotler, supraat *5 (“material in the first action”); McGuinn, supra, at *2 (“necessarily decided and material”); Beechwood Restorative Care Ctr. v. Leeds, 436 F.3d 147, 152-153 (2d Cir. 2006) (“necessarily decided and decisive”); BBS Norwalk, supra, at 677 (“decisive”); Louis Ender, Inc. v. General Foods Corp., 467 F.2d 327, 330 (2d Cir. 1972) (court’s finding as to fraud not collateral estoppel because was“not material to its decision”), cert. denied, 410 U.S. 930 (1973); Smith v. Mosier, 169 F. 430, 446 (2d Cir. 1909) (no preclusion if it was “immaterial or unessential to the determination of the real issue in the prior action, even if put in issue, tried. and decided”).
New York Court of Appeals Decisions
Silberstein v. Silberstein, 218 N.Y. 525, 528 (1916) (“judgment does not work an estoppel as to unessential facts, even though put in issue by the pleadings and directly decided”); Stokes v. Stokes, 172 N.Y. 327, 341 (1902) (“It is well settled . . . although a decree in express terms purports to affirm a particular fact, or rule of law, yet if such fact or rule of law was immaterial to the issue, and the controversy did not turn upon it, the decree will not conclude the parties thereto”); House v. Lockwood, 137 N.Y. 259, 268 (1893) (“A judgment does not operate as an estoppel in a subsequent action between the parties as to immaterial or unessential facts, even though put in issue by the pleadings and directly decided”); Liddle, Robinson & Shoemaker v. Shoemaker, 768 N.Y.S.2d 183, 187 (1st Dept. 2003) (no collateral estoppel where court said it was not material to its determination); White v. Frize, 827 N.Y.S.2d 302, 304 (3d Dep’t 2006) (same).