No. 27875 (March 14, 2008)
OPINION OF THE COURT BY LEONARD, J.
Plaintiff-Appellant Craig Smallwood (Smallwood) appeals from a Judgment filed on February 25, 2005 in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (Circuit Court) in Civil No. 04-1-2315-12. The Circuit Court entered Judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee City and County of Honolulu (City) upon the Circuit Court's February 23, 2005 Order Granting City's Motion to Dismiss Smallwood's Complaint (Order Granting Dismissal). The Circuit Court based its dismissal of the Complaint on two findings: (1) that the claims set forth in the Complaint were previously adjudicated in Smallwood v. City, Civil No. 04-1-0974-05 (Prior Litigation) and, therefore, the Complaint constituted an impermissible "collateral attack" on the prior judgment; and (2) that the Circuit Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over certain claims set forth in the Complaint because Smallwood failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to those claims.
On appeal, Smallwood argues that the Circuit Court erred in finding that the Complaint constituted a collateral attack on the judgment in the Prior Litigation. Smallwood does not challenge on appeal the Circuit Court's second finding that it lacked jurisdiction over certain claim in the Complaint based on Smallwood's failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
The judgment in the Prior Litigation: (1) dismissed without prejudice a prior complaint by Smallwood against City; and (2) dismissed with prejudice certain claims for injunctive relief that were actually adjudicated on the merits in that case. Smallwood's Complaint herein does not seek to indirectly set aside, invalidate, avoid, or impeach the judgment in the Prior Litigation through an independent action seeking an alternative form of relief or result. Therefore, we hold that the filing of the Complaint did not constitute an impermissible collateral attack on the prior judgment. The Circuit Court's ruling that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over certain of Smallwood's claims was not an adjudication on the merits and, accordingly, the Circuit Court's dismissal with prejudice must have been based on the erroneous application of the collateral attack doctrine. We vacate the Judgment and Order Granting Dismissal and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion. [footnote omitted]