THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
Lifschultz Fast Freight, Petitioner,
McKay & Guérard, a
Partnership, William P.
Simpson, Jr., William M.
Grant, Jr., Julius
McKay, and John B.
McLeod, Jointly and
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI
TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
Appeal From Richland County
L. Casey Manning, Circuit Court Judge
Opinion No. 24895
Heard December 16, 1998 - Filed February 8, 1999
AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED IN PART;
VACATED IN PART
D. Dusty Rhoades, of Charleston, for petitioner.
MCKAY & GUItRARD, etc., et al.
Donald V. Richardson, III and Charles E. Carpenter,
Jr., both of Richardson, Plowden, Carpenter &
Robinson, of Columbia, for respondents.
PER CURIAM: We granted certiorari to review the Court of Appeals'
decision reported at 324 S.C. 645~ 486 S.E.2d 14 (Ct. App. 1997). We now
affirm in part as modified, and vacate Part III of that opinion which
discusses the foreseeability of damages.
Petitioner sued respondents for legal malpractice, breach of
contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The circuit court granted respondents
summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Prior to initiating
this state action, petitioner had brought a federal anti-trust suit in which he
was initially represented by respondents.1 Over petitioner's vehement
objections, respondents were permitted to withdraw from representation.
Petitioner never appealed this withdrawal, and ultimately lost the anti-trust
suit at the summary judgment stage.
The crux of this current action is petitioner's contention that the
federal judge erred in permitting respondents to withdraw from the anti-
trust suit. The circuit court and the Court of Appeals held this issue could
not be relitigated in this forum, the Court of Appeals characterizing the
federal judge's ruling as "the law of the case." We agree that relitigation is
barred, but modify the Court of Appeals' decision to reflect that the issue is
precluded not by the law of the case doctrine, which applies only to
subsequent proceedings in the same litigation following an appellate
decision, but by the doctrine of res judicata. Since a federal judgment is
urged as the bar, federal law applies. Crestwood Golf Club, Inc., v. Potter,
328 S.C. 201, 493 S.E.2d 826 (1997). The federal view of res judicata
includes the concept of "issue preclusion," which "bars relitigation of
particular issues actually litigated and decided in the prior suit." Id. The
propriety of respondents' withdrawal was vigorously litigated and actually
decided in the anti-trust suit, and therefore is res judicata. Accordingly, we
affirm this part of the Court of Appeals' opinion as modified.
MCKAY & GURARD, etc., et al.
After correctly holding that petitioner's suit was procedurally
barred, the Court of Appeals went on to discuss the foreseeability of damages
in Part III of its opinion. This discussion is not necessary to the decision in
this case, and, therefore, we vacate Part Ill. Accordingly, the decision of the
Court of Appeals in this matter is
AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED IN PART; VACATED IN PART.