If I sued a person in small claims court and lost, can I still file in civil court correct?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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If I sued a person in small claims court and lost, can I still file in civil court correct?

I sued a real estate agent in small claims court and lost, however what I need to do is file a civil case bc the amount has frowned since to $50,000, an agent bought a home with a lien still on it by paying prior owners cash and then she put lipstick on a pig flipped it knowing there was a major defect in the basement structure that causes significant water intrusion. She covered it up and sold it to us. We had to dig our entire basement out to fix the cracks. She profited $151,000 on it and left us with the bill. So now I need to file a civil lawsuits.

Asked on November 1, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Idaho


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the small claims case grew out of the same event or transaction (e.g. the house sale and any representations or nondisclosures made during it) and if you lost in the trial or otherwise had your claim dismissed "with prejudice," then you can't file a new case in civl court. The loss in small claims court would be "res judicata," or binding in any future litgation and so a future case would be summarily dismissed because you've already lost. The law does not let you keep bringing fundamentally the same or related claims (since related claims, including claims against different parties arising from the same event or transaction, under the "entire controversy" and "joinder" doctrines should have all been brought together, in the same case) by filing in different courts.
If your case small claims was dismissed "without prejudice" such as on procedural or technical grounds (bad service of process, for example) then you could file a new claim. Or if it grows out of a different event or transaction, you could file.

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