W. Don Morris v. Esmark Apparel
1991.TN.2218 , 832 S.W.2D 563
Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
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This case presents the question of whether an administrative adjudication of disqualification for unemployment compensation benefits may be used to preclude litigation of an issue in a subsequent civil suit for breach of employment contract hinging upon the same fact question, by the application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel. W. Don Morris ("Plaintiff") filed suit in the Chancery Court of Shelby County against Esmark Apparel, Inc. ("Defendant") for breach of contract, along with other claims. Plaintiff sought damages, alleging he was fired without cause and was denied severance pay, among other things. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which was converted into a motion for summary judgment. Defendant contended that a ruling by the Tennessee Department of Employment Security ("TDES") Board of Review following the filing of a claim for unemployment compensation by plaintiff was conclusive as to the principal issue presented by this litigation. Following a hearing the chancellor granted summary judgment in favor of defendant, applying the doctrine of collateral estoppel. The single issue presented by this appeal is whether the trial court erred in holding that plaintiffs claim for damages was barred by collateral estoppel. We hold there was no error and affirm.