– If a lawsuit is settled out of court, what is there to stop someone else suing for the exact same reason?


Or even if it is settled in court.

Just curious.

Edit; thanks for all responses:)

In: 2

You mostly cant sue without being involved or without having a case, and if youre involved and sue out of court, youre signing off for the right to sue in court.


The second (third, etc.) suit has to come from a different person, though, and they have to show they were harmed in order to have standing to sue successfully.

Two things:

– To sue, you must have what is known as _standing_. Basically, you have to demonstrate that you have been _personally_ harmed in a way that the courts recognize and can rectify. Not everyone will have standing, so not everyone can sue.

– When the suit is settled out of court, part of that settlement is that the case is _dismissed with prejudice_, meaning that they are not allowed to refile the same suit at a later date. Same thing when there is a summary judgment in a case – the decision can be appealed, but the suit can’t be refiled.

So if I rear end you with your car, and you sue me, and we settle, what’s to stop someone else from suing who wasn’t in your car? They weren’t in your car.

There’s small issue with your choice of words, that I like to explain.

For Alice to “sue” Bob, all Alice has to do is file a paper in court that *alleges* that Bob caused her some harm, for which Alice thinks Bob should have to pay. Typically (and I speak for United States law here), anyone can “sue” anyone else for anything at any time. There is literally nothing stopping me from suing you right now.

“Suing” someone, however, is very different from *winning* your lawsuit — that is, from Alice actually convincing the court that Bob harmed her and needs to pay up.

In your example — as others have mentioned — there are a several things that might stop a third person (Charlie) from *winning* a lawsuit filed for the “exact same reason.” For instance, to win, Charlie needs to actually have been injured. If Bob punched Alice in the face, and Alice sued for medical bills, and then Alice and Bob settled, what is Charlie’s injury? Charlie can’t sue simply because “Bob shouldn’t have punched Alice.” He needs to show that he, personally, was harmed. For this reason, Bob’s lawyer would typically make sure that anyone who was potentially harmed by the punch agrees to the settlement before Bob agrees to pay Alice.

The biggest wrinkle in this what is called “class actions.” Those are lawsuits where some behavior by the defendant has the potential to harm lots of people, some of whom might not be known. Let’s say Bob manufactures pens, and he doesn’t exactly do a good job. Bob’s pens keep leaking and ruining people’s clothes. Alice is one of those people. She could sue as a “class action,” alleging that everyone who bought Bob’s pens is entitled to compensation. Alice and Bob agree to a settlement — everyone who bought Bob’s pens will get $2 per pen that they bought. In a case like this, the court will literally try to contact every single person who bought Bob’s pens, inform them of the settlement, inform them of how to submit a claim for their $2/pen, and — most importantly — inform them that unless they “opt out,” they will be prohibited from suing Bob for a leaky pen. In this case, if Charlie does not opt-out, then files a separate lawsuit against Bob, he will lose his lawsuit because Bob’s lawyers will (successfully) point out that his suit is prohibited by the class action settlement.