A Nebraska lawyer recently used the doctrine of res judicata to prevent him from having to do the dishes, the Lincoln Legal TImes reported over the weekend. Calvin J. Palentine, a lawyer who practices family law in Lincoln, Nebraska, said his wife was making the same argument again and “using the same exact facts, and it just struck me, this is res judicata.” Palentine said he put up his hand and said res judicata and “that was the end of it.”
Res judicata is a latin term meaning “the matter has been decided.” It bars claims that had already been previously determined or that could have been asserted in prior court proceedings. Palentine’s use of res judicata at home is the first recorded incident of it being applied in domestic matters outside of the law.
“Frankly, in my thirty years of practice I’ve rarely been successful with res judicata,” Palentine said. “But to do so at home is really fulfilling, especially since I didn’t have to do the dishes.”
Palentine’s daughter, however, quickly invoked the equitable doctrine of “one who seeks equity must do equity.” Because her father had eaten off the dishes and had specifically requested that his wife make his favorite meal of spaghetti and meatballs, “he should not then benefit with a windfall by sitting on his ass. Honestly, dad,” his daughter said. “Equity abhors ass-sitting.”