"B" was included in the original suit but never served because we could not find him, therefore the case against "B" was dismissed. We have now found him but already have a judgment against "A". Can we go after "A" and "B" for collection since "B" was a co-signor on the lease that judgment was given on.
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No, you can't "go after" anyone you don't have a judgment against. if judgment was entered in error against a person on whom process was not served, that judgment is void.
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No, you would have to re-file and win a judgment in a new lawsuit against "B" before you could begin collect against "B".
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
Can you go after "A" and "B", cosignors on a lease, for collection, having received a judgment against "A"?
You are asking whether the doctrine of collateral estoppel applies in your case. Under this doctrine generally, judgment is conclusive in a subsequent action on a different case between the same parties in the initial case.
Here, tenant "B" was not in the first case, and therefore, one might ask whether you, as a plaintiff, could invoke the doctrine against B? Moreover, California Code of Civ. Pro. Sec. 99 reads, "A judgment or final order, in respect to the matter directly adjudged, is conclusive between the parties and their successors in interest but does not operate as collateral estoppel of a party or a successor in interest to a party in other litigation with a person who was not a party or a successor in interest to a party to the action in which the judgment or order is rendered." Such language would suggest that, since "B" was not a party to the original action, you could not bring the fact of the judgment against "A" also against "B".
However, the law, there is the idea of a "party in privity" . As you, and tenants "A" and "B" were cosignors on the same contract, I think there could be a legal argument to be made that "B" was a "party in privity" on the contract/lease with "A", and therefore, "B" could arguably be "collaterally estopped" from relitigating the entire dispute.
The fact that "B" was not served with process, presents the greatest obstacle to making a collateral estoppel argument against "B".
Worth hiring a lawyer to do more precise legal research, specifically on your question.
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As others have said, you can't go after B using a judgment against A. You have to file a new action. Whether you can do so B depends on whether you dismissed him with or without prejudice; if it was the former, you are now barred from filing a new action; if the latter, you are free to proceed. You haven't given us the timing of events, but you will also want to explore whether you are now facing a statute of limitations problem.