Legal Definition of Splitting A Claim/Cause Of Action

Dividing a single or indivisible claim or cause of action into separate parts and bringing separate suits upon it.2 min read


Dividing a single or indivisible claim or cause of action into separate parts and bringing separate suits upon it, either in the same court , or in separate courts or jurisdictions. There is a general rule against such splittings.

Consent or tacit agreement is clear justification for splitting a claim. Restatement (Second) of Judgments S 26(1)(a), and comment a (1982). Because a primary purpose of claim preclusion is to protect defendants from being harassed by repetitive actions based on the same claim, the rule need not be enforced where the State and County have implicitly consented to the splitting of the Dodds' claim under state and federal laws. See Rennie, 294 Or. at 329 n. 9 (citing 18 Charles A. Wright, Arthur C. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure S 4415 at 124-125; and Annot., 40 A.L.R.3d 108 (1971)).

It may appear in the course of an action that the plaintiff is splitting a claim, but that there are special reasons that justify his doing so, and accordingly that the judgment in the action ought not to have the usual consequences of extinguishing the entire claim; rather the plaintiff should be left with an opportunity to litigate in a second action that part of the claim which he justifiably omitted from the first action. Restatement (Second) of Judgments S 26(1)(b).

The Constitution does not give "every person asserting a federal right . . . one unencumbered opportunity to litigate that right in a federal district court, regardless of the legal posture in which the federal claim arises." Allen, 449 U.S. at 103. "There is . . . no reason to believe that Congress [through passage of S 1983] intended to provide a person claiming a federal right an unrestricted opportunity to relitigate an issue already decided in state court simply because the issue arose in a state proceeding in which he would rather not have been engaged at all." Id. at 104.

Under the "entire controversy" doctrine, a party who has elected not to raise a related part of the controversy is barred from raising it in a subsequent proceeding. Peduto, 878 F.2d at 727 (citing Woodward-Clyde Consultants v. Chemical and Pollution Sciences, Inc., 523 A.2d 131, 135 (N.J. 1987)).

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