Ruiz v. Snohomish County Public Utility Dist. No. 1

Once it concludes that it lacks jurisdiction, a district court may not rule on the merits of an action; and if it does so anyway, the resulting judgment is not effective for purposes of res judicata.  A district court dismissed plaintiff’s prior federal employment discrimination suit for lack of personal jurisdiction (due to belated service of the suit) and because it was barred by the statute of limitations.  Such a judgment on both lack of jurisdiction and merits grounds is not given res judicata effect because upon concluding that it lacked jurisdiction, the first court was no longer authorized to rule on the merits.

 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Graber, J.); June 8, 2016; 2016 WL 3192594


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