C. Failure to Identify A Legally Cognizable Harm
As a plaintiff in a malpractice suit, Bigelow must demonstrate that the defendant's actions caused a legally cognizable injury. Becker v. Colonial Parking, Inc., 133 U.S. App. D.C. 213, 409 F.2d 1130, 1136-37 (D.C. Cir. 1969). The plaintiff must show, inter alia, that his attorney's "negligence resulted in and was the proximate cause of the loss to the client." Niosi v. Aiello, 69 A.2d 57, 60 (D.C. Mun. Ct. App. 1949). Thus an attorney is not liable for malpractice if his client has suffered no damages.
In the instant case the plaintiff essentially alleges only vague and general failures of the defendant to locate and interview witnesses who would have "rendered suitable support for a defense." Plaintiff fails to identify what these witnesses would have testified to and how they would have supported a defense which would have resulted in his acquittal. Accordingly, this Court rules that the plaintiff has failed to assert a legally cognizable harm which is an essential element of his claim and his complaint must be dismissed.
D. Collateral Estoppel
The plaintiff's complaint must also be dismissed on the ground of collateral estoppel which "prohibits parties who have litigated one cause of action from relitigating in a second and different cause of action matters of fact which were, or necessarily must have been, determined in the first litigation." Tutt v. Doby, 148 U.S. App. D.C. 171, 459 F.2d 1195, 1197 (D.C. Cir. 1972). For this doctrine to apply, the same issue must be at stake in both cases, and the issue must have been litigated and decided in the first suit.
Plaintiff's allegations in this case, failure to interview and use witnesses, encompass in all material aspects the same claims that he presented in his § 23-110 motion. That motion was denied and is entitled to preclusive effect in the instant case. See McCord v. Bailey, 204 U.S. App. D.C. 334, 636 F.2d 606, 608-610 (D.C. Cir. 1980).
Accordingly, it hereby is
ORDERED that defendant's motion to dismiss be, and the same hereby is, GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED that the plaintiff's complaint be, and the same hereby is, DISMISSED.