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Appeal from the District Court for Scotts Bluff County: LEO DOBROVOLNY, Judge.
Todd Morten, of Island & Huff, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.
Robert M. Brenner, of Robert M. Brenner Law Office, Poway, for appellee.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Connolly, Stephan, McCormack, Miller-Lerman, and Cassel, JJ.
Syllabus by the Court
1. Judgments: Res Judicata: Collateral Estoppel: Appeal and Error. The applicability of claim and issue preclusion is a question of law. On a question of law, an appellate court reaches a conclusion independent of the court below.
2. Judgments: Res Judicata. Claim preclusion bars the relitigation of a claim that has been directly addressed or necessarily included in a former adjudication if (1) the former judgment was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) the former judgment was a final judgment, (3) the former judgment was on the merits, and (4) the same parties or their privies were involved in both actions.
3. Res Judicata. Claim preclusion bars relitigation not only of those matters actually litigated, but also of those matters which might have been litigated in the prior action.
4. Res Judicata. Claim preclusion rests on the necessity to terminate litigation and on the belief that a person should not be vexed twice for the same cause.
5. Judgments: Collateral Estoppel. Issue preclusion bars the relitigation of a finally determined issue that a party had a prior opportunity to fully and fairly litigate. Issue preclusion applies where (1) an identical issue was decided in a prior action, (2) the prior action resulted in a final judgment on the merits, (3) the party against whom the doctrine is to be applied was a party or was in privity with a party to the prior action, and (4) there was an opportunity to fully and fairly litigate the issue in the prior action.
6. Collateral Estoppel. Issue preclusion applies only to issues actually litigated.
7. Collateral Estoppel. Issue preclusion protects litigants from relitigating an identical issue with a party or his privy and promotes judicial economy by preventing needless litigation.
8. Res Judicata: Collateral Estoppel. While the doctrines of claim and issue preclusion are similar and serve similar purposes, they are distinct.
9. Small Claims Court: Judgments. A small claims court judgment is in fact a " judgment."
10. Small Claims Court. The purpose of small claims court is to provide a prompt and just determination in an action involving small amounts while ...