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Where the parties settle a dispute and a court enters a judgment upon the parties' consent, that judgment is in many ways like a judgment entered after full contest upon a jury verdict or a court's finding. It may be enforced in the same way as any other judgment. It is no more subject to collateral attack. The original claim may become merged in it or barred by it just as that claim would be in a judgment after contest. There is a serious conflict in the cases, however, on the question whether a consent judgment binds the parties collaterally upon facts which had been in issue in the action which was settled. One line of cases treats the consent judgment as implying a determination of those issues in the same way as would a judgment entered on the general verdict of a jury. Thus a consent judgment for plaintiff in a negligence case was held in Biggio v. Magee to imply a finding of defendant's negligence and the absence of negligence on plaintiff's part. Other courts reject this result, reasoning that a consent judgment implies no determination by the court of any issues in the case. It is the purpose of this Article to contend that the latter rule is right and that a consent judgment should not be given any effect as collateral estoppel except in the rare case where it may fairly be said that the parties intended this effect.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Consent Judgments as Collateral Estoppel, 108 U. Pa. L. Rev. 173 (1959)