United States District Court, D. Utah
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
N. Parrish United States District Court Judge.
Michael Roy Parkinson brought this action alleging several
counts of constitutional violations under § 1983 arising
out of a traffic stop and subsequent search of his apartment.
He seeks damages from three Murray County police officers.
The court referred this matter to Magistrate Judge Evelyn J.
Furse pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). [Docket 23].
On September 28, 2018, this court granted in part and denied
in part Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim. [Docket 66]. The only of Mr. Parkinson’s
claims to survive the Motion to Dismiss was a Fourth
Amendment claim arising out of the traffic stop.
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Mr. Parkinson’s
remaining claim. Defendants argued that an element of the
claim, whether the police officers lacked reasonable
suspicion to stop Mr. Parkinson, was decided in Mr.
Parkinson’s state criminal proceeding, where the state
court concluded in two separate suppression hearings that the
officers had probable cause. On July 31, 2019, Magistrate
Judge Furse entered a Report and Recommendation, recommending
that the claim be dismissed. [Docket 85]. Mr. Parkinson filed
a timely objection to the Report and Recommendation. [Docket
89]. Thus, the court “must determine de novo”
whether his objection has merit. Fed R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3).
Scope of Mr. Parkinson’s Objection
Parkinson objects to two portions of the Report and
Recommendation. First, he contends that, to the extent that
the Magistrate Judge did not conclude that essentiality is a
requirement of issue preclusion, Utah law was improperly
applied. Second, he argues that the issue must have been
essential to the resolution of the prior suit, rather than
just to a final judgment. Because the probable cause issue
was not essential to his earlier criminal conviction, Mr.
Parkinson asserts that the Magistrate Judge improperly
concluded that he is precluded from litigating the issue in
this civil case.
Parkinson has conceded that he was a party to the earlier
case in which the issue was first litigated, and he does not
dispute that the issues are identical. He also does not
dispute that the state court judge’s decisions on his
motions to suppress were final judgments or that the
precluded issue was essential to those final judgments. The
only questions that this court reviews de novo, therefore,
are (1) whether the Report and Recommendation improperly
failed to recognize essentiality as a requirement of issue
preclusion and (2) whether an issue must have been essential
to the resolution of an earlier suit as a whole in order to
Requirements for Issue Preclusion Under Utah Law
Magistrate Judge noted, and contrary to Mr. Parkinson’s
argument, there are only four express elements of issue
preclusion under Utah law:
(i) the party against whom issue preclusion is asserted must
have been a party to or in privity with a party to the prior
adjudication; (ii) the issue decided in the prior
adjudication must be identical to the one presented in the
instant action; (iii) the issue in the first action must have
been completely, fully, and fairly litigated; and (iv) the
first suit must have resulted in a final judgment on the
Oman v. Davis Sch. Dist., 194 P.3d 956, 965 (Utah
2008) (quoting Collins v. Sandy City Bd. of
Adjustment, 52 P.3d 1267, 1270 (Utah 2002)).
clear from this list, essentiality is not an express
requirement of issue preclusion in Utah. Regardless, the
Report and Recommendation addressed essentiality, recognizing
that it is a general principle that Utah courts use to guide
their analysis of the four aforementioned elements. Thus, Mr.
Parkinson’s first objection, that the Report and
Recommendation did not sufficiently consider the essentiality
of the issue, is without merit.
Requirements of the Essentiality Principle in Utah
court next considers whether there is any merit to Mr.
Parkinson’s argument that the essentiality principle
requires that the issue have been essential to the resolution
of the earlier suit, rather than only to a final judgment.
Because issue preclusion is not “an inflexible,
universally applicable principle, ” courts need not
apply it when doing so would not serve the policy
justifications underlying the doctrine. Buckner v.
Kennard, 99 P.3d 842, 846 (Utah 2004) (citations
omitted). Thus, even if courts in Utah are ...