The plaintiffs brought this action seeking injunctive relief to restrain the defendant town of Fairfield and its zoning enforcement officer from interfering with the continued operation of the plaintiffs' dairy business.
The Wade family
At some point prior to 1963 Wade's Dairy began processing fruit flavored drinks on the subject property. In September of 1975 the defendant zoning enforcement officer issued a cease and desist order based upon a determination that the processing of fruit flavored drinks was a nonpermitted use and an enlargement of the permitted nonconforming use of processing and distributing dairy products.
In December of 1975 the plaintiffs filed an application for a variance with the zoning board of appeals
In November of 1977, the trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' appeals in both actions on the ground that the zoning board of appeals had not acted "illegally or arbitrarily or in abuse of the discretion vested in it" in not reversing or modifying the cease and desist order and in not granting an extension or enlargement of a nonconforming use on the subject property. The plaintiffs' petitions for certification for appeal were subsequently denied by this court. Wade's Dairy, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 175 Conn. 757, 386 A.2d 263 (1978).
The doctrine of res judicata holds that an existing final judgment rendered upon the merits without fraud or collusion, by a court of competent jurisdiction, is conclusive of causes of action and of facts or issues thereby litigated as to the parties and their privies in all other actions in the same or any other judicial tribunal of concurrent jurisdiction.
The doctrine of res judicata applies to a judgment at law even though the subsequent action is one in equity. Bill v. Gattavara, 34 Wn.2d 645, 650, 209 P.2d 457 (1949); 46 Am. Jur. 2d, Judgments § 469, p. 635. Although the methods of presenting and determining controversies and facts on which they arise may differ in equity and at law, so long as the identity of the controversy can be discerned, the adjudication in one court is conclusive on the other. Thus, it is generally held that a matter which is available as a defense to an action at law becomes res judicata by the judgment rendered therein, and may not be made the predicate of equitable relief. Indeed, it is not the form a ruling assumes, nor how induced, but the substance that lays the cornerstone for res judicata. Sibold v. Sibold, 217 Or. 27, 32, 340 P.2d 974 (1959); 46 Am. Jur. 2d, Judgments § 457, p. 627.
A cause of action is that single group of facts which is claimed to have brought about an unlawful injury to the plaintiff and which entitles the plaintiff to relief. Veits v. Hartford, 134 Conn. 428, 434, 58 A.2d 389 (1948). Even though a single group of facts may give rise to rights for several different kinds of relief, it is still a single cause of action. Bridgeport Hydraulic Co. v. Pearson, supra, 198.
The cause of action that the plaintiffs are asserting is the same as that upon which they relied in their appeal from the zoning board of appeals' refusal to modify the cease and desist order and in their appeal from the zoning board of appeals'
The fact that the town of Fairfield and the zoning enforcement officer, the defendants in this action, were not named in the two previous actions does not preclude the application of the doctrine of res judicata inasmuch as the zoning board of appeals was clearly created to carry out the mandates of the town as they pertain to zoning matters. See General Statutes §§ 8-1 through 8-13a.
Since they represent not their own rights but the rights of the municipality the agents of the same municipal corporation are in privity with each other and with the municipality. When a judgment is rendered against an officer of a municipal corporation who sues or is sued in his official capacity, the judgment is binding upon the corporation, and upon other officers of the same municipal corporation who represent the same interest. McKinney v. East St. Louis, 39 Ill.App.2d 137, 188 N.E.2d 341 (1963); 56 Am. Jur. 2d, Municipal Corporations § 874, p. 852.
We therefore conclude that the plaintiffs' action for an injunction is barred by the doctrine of res judicata.
There is no error.
In this opinion the other judges concurred.