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Argument on res judicata & force majeure
September 19, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Arguments before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Noël Wise (Department 514, Hayward Hall of Justice) on issues raised by trial briefs filed by the opposing parties in OBOT v. Oakland, a trial for which testimony in the first phase (concerning liability for competing breach of contract claims) concluded on August 31, 2023.
The parties are briefing two highly technical but important issues that are likely to have a major impact on the outcome of the trial:
- Res judicata. A basic principle of civil procedure is that a party cannot bring a second lawsuit on claims that were or could have been litigated in an earlier action. In other words, the legal system does not allow two bites at the same apple. The parties dispute how this rule applies to the prior federal litigation, which ended in mid-May 2018 with a decision by United States District Court Judge Vince Chhabria’s ruling that the City had insufficient evidence to support its banning of coal storing and handling at the proposed export terminal in West Oakland. The City argues that this rule bars OBOT’s claims that actions of the City before May 2018 breached the Ground Lease and that the City’s actions prior to June 14, 2017 (when OBOT filed its final complaint in the federal action) excuse OBOT’s failures to meet their construction deadlines under the Lease.
- Force majeure. There are competing claims about how force majeure, literally a “greater force,” and legally an unforeseen event that prevents performance of contractually specified obligations, applies in OBOT v Oakland. The opposing views on this issue, as well, will be argued before Judge Wise on this date.