A. H., a minor, by and through his Next Friend, Tracy Hubbard, Plaintiff - Appellant
Midwest Bus Sales, Inc., Defendant - Appellee; Renna Yi, Plaintiff - Appellant
Midwest Bus Sales, Inc., Defendant - Appellee
February 9, 2016.
Appeals from United States District Court for the Western
District of Missouri - Kansas City.
H., a minor, by and through his Next Friend, Tracy Hubbard,
Plaintiff - Appellant (15-2317): Anita Porte Robb, Gary
Charles Robb, Robb & Robb, Kansas City, MO.
Midwest Bus Sales, Inc., Defendant - Appellee (15-2317,
15-2318): Matthew W. Geary, Patrick Kevin McMonigle, Dysart &
Taylor, Kansas City, MO.
Renna Yi, Plaintiff - Appellant (15-2318): Anita Porte Robb,
Gary Charles Robb, Robb & Robb, Kansas City, MO.
RILEY, Chief Judge, LOKEN and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
citizens A.H. and Renna Yi, both minors, were passengers on a
school bus that collided with a pickup truck, causing them
serious injuries. A.H.'s parents, and his mother Tracy
Hubbard on A.H.'s behalf, and Yi's parents, and her
mother Huairen Yi on Yi's behalf, separately sued
numerous entities in Missouri state court, including the
manufacturer and retailer of the bus and the manufacturer of
its brakes, alleging, among other things, the brakes were
defective. Kansas citizen Midwest Bus Sales, Inc. (Midwest
Bus), the retail seller of the bus, originally was a party to
each action, but was omitted from subsequent amended
complaints. The consolidated cases went to trial against the
remaining defendants, the jury found in favor of all the
remaining defendants, the state trial court entered judgment,
and the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed.
(through his Next Friend, Tracy Hubbard) and Yi (appellants)
also each sued Midwest Bus in federal court in the Western
District of Missouri in diversity actions under Missouri law.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), (c)(1)-(2). The district
court granted Midwest Bus's motions to
dismiss, deciding appellants' claims were barred by res
judicata, also known as claim preclusion. Appellants appeal.
We affirm on
the alternative basis that appellants' claims are barred
by collateral estoppel, also known as issue
9, 2005, A.H. and Renna Yi were riding in a Liberty Public
School District (LPSD) school bus that crashed into a pickup
truck as the bus sped through an intersection located at the
bottom of a hill in Liberty, Missouri. According to the bus
driver, the bus's brakes failed as she drove down the
hill, so she began swerving to avoid the vehicles in the
intersection but ultimately crashed into the truck.
following month, A.H. and Yi each filed suit in the Circuit
Court of Clay County, Missouri, against, among others, Bendix
Commercial Vehicle Systems, LLC (Bendix), the manufacturer of
the brakes; Thomas Built Buses, Inc. (Thomas Built), the
manufacturer of the bus; Freightliner, LLC (Freightliner),
Thomas Built's parent company; and Midwest Bus, the
retail seller of the bus. Midwest Bus was not named in either
A.H's or Yi's final amended petitions.
trial took place early in 2013 with Bendix, Thomas Built, and
Freightliner (state court defendants) as named defendants.
The claims were against
(1) Bendix for strict liability for selling defective
automatic slack adjusters (ASAs), which are a component of
the brake system;
(2) Bendix for strict liability for failing to warn that the
ASAs were unreasonably dangerous;
(3) Thomas Built for strict liability for selling a defective
(4) Freightliner for negligently failing to warn Thomas Built
that manual adjustment of the ASAs was dangerous.
state court defendants' theory of the crash was "
pedal misapplication," that is, the bus driver was
pressing the accelerator when she thought she was pressing
the brake. The jury found in favor of all these defendants on
all claims. In October 2014, the Missouri Court of Appeals
affirmed. See Gleason v. Bendix Commercial Vehicle Sys.,
LLC, 452 S.W.3d 158, 185 (Mo.Ct.App. 2014).
March 2015, A.H. and Yi each filed parallel diversity suits
against Midwest Bus in the Western District of Missouri. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), (c)(1)-(2). Both complaints
alleged Midwest Bus (1) inspected the bus before delivering
it to LPSD but " ...