Two Defendants, Claim Splitting

Claim-splitting often occurs when one party brings successive actions against the same defendant. It is prohibited. “Claims that could have been raised by a prevailing party in the first action are merged into, and are thus barred by, the first judgment.” Chesterfield Village v. City of Chesterfield, 64 S.W.3d 315, 318 (Mo. 2002). The reason for the rule is to encourage all disputes to be resolved within a single suit.

There are exceptions. “When two defendants are potentially liable for the same loss, the claims are considered separate and two suits can be maintained against the differing parties.” Hollida v. Hollida, 190 S.W.3d 550, 556 (Mo. App. W.D. 2006). Stated differently, “[t]he rule against splitting a cause of action applies only where the several causes of action are between the same parties.” Lee v. Guettler, 391 S.W.3d 311, 313 (Mo. 1965).

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