This case involves a pure question of law: Whether the doctrine of res judicata bars a paternity action by a child where a judgment has been rendered against the mother in a previous paternity action in which the child was not a party.
The trial court found it does not. We agree and affirm.
On June 8, 1989, Dede A. Trammel [Trammel] became the mother of twin boys, C.A.T. and C.S.T. About six weeks later, she filed a paternity action against Alan W. Kieler. On August 21, 1990, the court denied her petition and stated that "[Trammel] is the mother of the minor children [C.A.T. and C.S.T.]; that [Trammel] was married to a third party at the time of conception and birth of [the] minor children; [and] that [Trammel] has failed to rebut the presumption that her husband is the father of the minor children." Trammel and her husband were separated both when the twins were conceived and at the time of the paternity hearing. They later divorced.
On February 28, 1992, the children, by Trammel as next friend, filed a petition to establish paternity naming Kieler as their putative father. Kieler denied he was their father and — citing the 1990 decision of the court — raised as an affirmative defense the doctrine of res judicata and moved for judgment on the pleadings.
The parties having appeared by attorneys, and cause submitted on [Trammel's] Motion to Correct Errors. The Magistrate finds:
Therefore, the Magistrate recommends that the Court ORDER, ADJUDGE AND DECREE:
R. 58-59. (Emphasis added).
Kieler claims this action is barred by res judicata and the trial court erred as a matter of law. "Appellate courts independently, and without the slightest deference to trial court determinations, evaluate those issues they deem to be questions of law. A pure question of law is one that requires neither reference to extrinsic evidence, the drawing of inferences therefrom, nor the consideration of credibility questions for its resolution." Kenneth M. Stroud, 4A Indiana Practice, § 12.3, 134 (1992). An appellate court reviews de novo a trial court's legal conclusions. Brant v. Hester (1991), Ind. App., 569 N.E.2d 748, 754.
The doctrine of res judicata consists of two concepts, claim preclusion and issue preclusion. Claim preclusion applies where a final judgment on the merits has been rendered which acts as a complete bar to a subsequent action on the same claim between those parties and their privies. J.D. v. E.W. by Her Next Friend, C.W. (1993), Ind. App., 610 N.E.2d 289; Hood v. G.D.H. by Elliott (1992), Ind. App., 599 N.E.2d 237, 239. When claim preclusion applies, all matters that were or might have been litigated are deemed conclusively decided by the judgment in the prior action. Hood, supra, at 239; In re Marriage of Moser (1984), Ind. App., 469 N.E.2d 762, 766. Issue preclusion bars the subsequent relitigation of the same fact or issue where that fact or issue was necessarily adjudicated in a former suit and the same fact or issue is presented in a subsequent action. J.D. v. E.W. (1993), Ind. App., 610 N.E.2d 289, supra;
For claim preclusion to apply, four elements must be present:
J.E. v. N.W.S., by S.L.S. (1991), Ind. App., 582 N.E.2d 829, 830-831, reh'g denied, trans. denied. J.E. v. N.W.S., by S.L.S. also was a paternity action. Mother sought to establish paternity which the alleged father denied. The action was dismissed pursuant to Ind. Trial Rule 41(E) for failure to prosecute. Five years later, Mother brought a paternity action as next friend of the child. The court found the dismissal, which operated as an adjudication on the merits pursuant to T.R. 41(B), did not bar the child's action because the
In the instant case, there is no dispute regarding the jurisdiction of the court in the initial paternity action nor do the parties dispute that paternity was determined in the former suit. Kieler claims the former judgment was on the merits and that the twins were either parties or in privity with their mother. We are not persuaded that either is the case.
A. Judgment on the Merits
As in Hood, we have no transcript of the testimony taken at the first hearing, the arguments presented, or evidence offered. The Record before us contains only the final order of the court which states in pertinent part: "[Trammel is the mother of the minor children [C.A.T. and C.S.T.]; that [Trammel] was married to a third party at the time of conception and birth of [the] minor children; that [Trammel] has failed to rebut the presumption that her husband is the father of the minor children."
B. Parties in the Previous Action
The dispositive question in the instant case is whether the twins were parties or in privity with their mother in the former action. It is clear from the caption in that case that the previous action was between Trammel and Kieler.
First, of course, we note that in the instant case, the twins were not named parties in the former paternity action — they were the subject of it. Second, in Indiana, children now are considered necessary parties to a paternity action. J.D. v. E.W. by Her Next Friend, C.W. (1993), Ind. App., 610 N.E.2d 289, supra, at n. 1; Ind. Code 31-6-6.1-2(c).
As the court stated in J.E. v. N.W.S., by S.L.S. (1991), Ind. App., 582 N.E.2d 829, supra: "A `necessary party' is not a presumptive party under the terms of [this] statute. Rather, a necessary party is one who must be joined in the action for just adjudication... . [T]he statute does not create party status for the child ... the child must be specifically joined as a party to the lawsuit." Id. at 832. Thus, for a person to be bound by a prior judgment, he must be a party because "the law is settled that no one's rights may be adversely affected if he is not a party to the litigation... ." Wyatt-Rauch Farms, Inc. v. Public Service Co. of Ind., Inc. (1974), Ind. App., 311 N.E.2d 441, 443.
As this court has stated, the interests of children are not necessarily the same as those of their mother.
Id. at 831-832.
In addition, this court noted in Matter of S.L. (1992), Ind. App., 599 N.E.2d 227, that the legislature also has recognized, in adoption and termination of parental rights
In the alternative, Kieler argues that if the State prevails in this case, a valid prior judgment can be collaterally attacked which would be contrary to our holding in Brindle v. Anglin (1973), 156 Ind.App. 219, 295 N.E.2d 860. He claims that because the Allen County prosecutor
Kieler also argues that the position urged by the State could result in three separate actions filed and tried on the merits on the question of Kieler's paternity — one by the mother and one by each of the twins. We refer Kieler's counsel to Ind. Trial Rule 19 (Joinder Of Person Needed For Just Adjudication) for the solution to Kieler's dilemma.
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
SHARPNACK, C.J., and CHEZEM, J., concur.
Parties in person and by attorneys. Cause submitted and evidence heard.
The Magistrate finds that the petitioner is the mother of the minor children ...; that the petitioner was married to a third party at the time of the conception and birth of the minor children; and that the petitioner has failed to rebut the presumption that her husband is the father of the minor children.
The Magistrate recommends that the petition be denied.
Magistrate's entry adopted as the order of the Court.
R. 15, 16. We note that the above is neither a photocopy of the Decision nor the Decision itself, but merely what appears in Kieler's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. However, Trammel does not dispute that this is a true representation of the 1989 Decision.
R. 15, 21, 58.