U.S. Supreme Court Holds that Common Nucleus of Operative Facts in a Previous Litigation Must be Established to Evidence a Common Claim for the Application of the Doctrine of Claim Preclusion

In Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc. v. Marcel Fashions Group, Inc., No. 18-1086 (May 14, 2020), a trademark infringement dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a defense raised by the petitioner was not barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion based on a defense raised in a previous litigation between the same parties, even though the defense in both cases related to the same settlement agreement.  The Court held that a common transaction or common nucleus of operative facts must be established to show that the claim in the previous litigation is the same as the claim in the current litigation for purposes of claim preclusion, and only then does the analysis proceed to whether an issue was or could have been raised in the previous litigation.  Here, the Court found that the conduct at issue took place long after the conclusion of the previous litigation and involved an allegation that LB was using marks that included “Lucky” but not Marcel’s “Get Lucky” mark in particular, and thus the facts did not support a showing of a common claim.