Scholz v. U.S.

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Civil Court
Res Judicata
Case Number: 
No. 20-2163
Decision Date: 
November 23, 2021
Federal District: 
E.D. Wisc.

Dist. Ct. did not err in dismissing plaintiff’s Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) action alleging that defendant-Department of Veterans Affairs was negligent in providing mental health treatment that began in 2011 and continued thereafter, which stemmed from 2011 breast reduction surgery that was performed on plaintiff, such that, according to plaintiff, she incurred permanent mental, emotional and physical injuries. Dist. Ct,. could properly find that plaintiff had improperly split her claim under circumstances, where: (1) plaintiff had previously filed medical negligence FTCA action arising out of same breast reduction surgery; and (2) both lawsuits rested on essentially same facts and concerned same alleged negligence and same transactions or series of related transactions. Ct. rejected plaintiffs contention that instant lawsuit addressed different conduct at different times, where first lawsuit was not confined to Department’s conduct in 2011 and 2012 regarding plaintiff’s breast surgery and was sufficiently aimed at plaintiff’s mental health treatment between 2011 and 2018 that was focus of instant lawsuit. As such, record showed that all requirements had been established for rule against claims splitting, which is subset of res judicata doctrine, where record showed existence of identity of parties and identity of causes of action between two instant lawsuits.