Re: Dale Eastman v. Richard Macdonald
- From: "Shyster1040" <Shyster1040@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2007 11:26:11 -0500
""7. You are hereby called on your dishonesty:
Importance of Court Decisions
Since Dale is going to be sticking his fingers in his ears for this one,
we can address him in the third person.
The only person being dishonest here is Dale, who is intentionally
confusing the difference between the issue of what weight a court case has
as precedent and the issue of whether a particular court case binds a
Put simply, a case can be a controlling precedent for a subsequent case,
and yet not be binding on anyone involved in that subsequent case.
The reason this difference exists, and why it is important, is that if a
person is bound by a particular court decision, they can no longer
litigate the issues that were decided in that decision. On the other
hand, even if a case is a controlling precedent, any person other than a
person who was a party to that case can continue to litigate the issues
decided in that case.
To illustrate the difference between the issue of the precedential effect
of a case and the binding effect of a case, take the following:
A is driving his car down Main St. on a bright, clear, warm May day. B,
who is well-known for his foolish pranks, puts a blindfold on himself and
begins running wildly through town, eventually reaching Main St. As A
approaches the intersection of Main and Elm, he notices that the light is
green, but he does not know for how long (i.e., it is a stale green
light). Midway down the block, A checks the light again to see if it's
turned yellow; A does this midway down the block because that is the last
point at which he would be able to stop the car before entering the
As A is looking up at the light, B cavorts wildly into Main St., near the
intersection of Main and Elm, but outside the clearly marked pedestrian
crossing - A's car, moving at the speed limit of 25 mph, strikes B and
tosses him like a ragdoll.
B suffers severe injuries and sues A for negligence. The jury finds A
negligent because he was looking at the traffic light instead of looking
for pedestrians and other potential traffic hazards, and that B's own
behaviour was not the proximate cause of B's injuries; the trial court
enters a corresponding verdict. A appeals all the way to the state
supreme court, which affirms the verdict without comment.
What effect does the case of B v. A have?
As precedent, this case is now controlling precedent within this state
standing for the rule that a driver who examines traffic lights as opposed
to looking for persons and objects he might strike is negligent. In every
subsequent case involving a defendant driver, the driver will have to
either distinguish that case from his, or will have to make a persuasive
argument for why the rule of that case is wrong and should be changed or
For example, suppose that C's car strikes D under otherwise exactly
identical facts two years later. If the facts are uncontested, D should
be able to win a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the rule
from the case of B v. A is controlling precedent. However, C will be
entitled to argue that the case of B v. A was wrongly decided, or that
there are other issues that were not addressed in that case that suggest
that the case of B v. A should be overruled.
The only people who cannot challenge that case, however, are A and B.
They are bound by the results of that case, and can no longer litigate any
of the issues that were decided in that case.
For example, suppose that A's auto insurance was insufficient to cover B's
damages award, and that A then made a claim against his umbrella
homeowners insurance, which provided secondary coverage to his
If, however, the insurance company refused coverage on the grounds that
the umbrella policy contained an exclusion for injuries caused by A's own
personal negligence, A would be unable to contest the issue of whether or
not he had been negligent if he sued the insurance company in court to
force coverage. This is what is known as offensive collateral estoppel,
and, to put it into simple(r) English, it means that A is prevented from
contesting the conclusions of the case of B v. A in another case in which
the same issues arise but which involves a person (the insurance company)
who was not a party to the case of B v. A.
Further, suppose that A, who then goes out and hires a creative attorney,
subsequently sues B for negligent damage to his, A's, car. If the
applicable statutory law provides, however, that the owner of an
automobile may not recover for damages to his car that were sustained in
the course of an incident in which the owner was negligent, A will lose
for the simple reason that he cannot contest the issue of whether or not
he was negligent in the incident involving B. Because of the final,
unappealable judgment in the original case of B v. A, A is regarded as
having been negligent as a matter of case law (i.e., res judicata in
formal terminology) and can no longer contest that issue.
By contrast, if E's car strikes F under otherwise identical circumstances,
and if E sues F first for damages to E's car, E will be entitled to argue
during the hearing on F's motion for summary judgment that the case of B
v. A was wrongly decided, and that therefore there is an issue of fact -
E's negligence - that must go to the jury and that therefore summary
judgment cannot be granted.
Thus, under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, a person who was a party
to one case can no longer litigate the issues that were decided in that
case in any other subsequent case, either against the same person or,
generally, against other parties.
Succinctly, since A lost in the case of B v. A, A can no longer litigate
any of the issues that were decided in that case, either against B, or
against W, who was not a party to the case of B v. A.
There is, however, an exception to the general rule of collateral estoppel
as it concerns government agencies. In general, if a government agency is
a party to one case, call it A v. IRS, in which the agency loses on all
issues, that agency - the IRS - is only bound by that case as respects A
and it can continue to litigate the same issues on which it lost in any
case involving any other taxpayer other than A.
To see the sense of this exception, imagine that the IRS loses to A on the
issue of whether the $10,000 car A got for free from his employer was
"income" because the IRS attorney handling the case was a bone-head who
did not understand the equivalence of cash payments and payments in kind.
Now, since the in-kind issue was not raised by the IRS at the trial level,
there is authority for the proposition that an appeals court would not
disturb the decision of the trial court because the ground for appeal was
not raised at the trial level. As a result, it might be possible for this
decision to become a final, unappealable decision.
If collateral estoppel were to apply to the IRS just like it applies to
private litigants, that would render enforcement of a federal statute
impossible - it would be vulnerable to the foibles of a single uneducated
As a result, while the IRS would be prevented from relitigating the income
issue against A, it would not be prevented from litigating the issue of
whether a payment in kind constituted "income" with respect to B, D, E,
..... or any other taxpayer.
Now, to get back to the reference from the Internal Revenue Manual that
Dale is intentionally lying to you about.
That provision states that "Decisions made by lower courts, such as Tax
Courts, or Claims Court, are binding on the Service only for the
particular taxpayer and the years litigated. Adverse decisions of lower
courts do not require the Service to alter its position for other
As discussed at length above, this does no more than restate the basic
rule of collateral estoppel as it applies to government agencies; namely,
that the IRS is bound - i.e., cannot relitigate - by a case with respect
to the taxpayer involved in that case, but is not prevented from
litigating those issues in other cases.
On the other hand, the rest of the quoted language from the IRM merely
restates the basic black-letter law regarding the precedential effect of
case-law; namely, that it is an indicator, sometimes better, sometimes
worse, of how a court would decide a particular issue being considered
based on how that issue has been decided in past cases, but that those
past cases do not, of themselves, prevent the current parties from
litigating issues that were resolved in those earlier cases, unless one of
the current parties was also a party to those earlier cases.
This concept has been explained in equally long-winded detail to Dale
before, so the fact that he refuses to mention it can only mean that he is
intentionally failing to bring it up in his current post, which means that
he is intentionally lying to us.
Thus, the only person being dishonest here is Dale. QED
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