A statement of decision entered in earlier litigation brought against the plaintiff in this suit was a sufficiently final determination to be accorded claim preclusive effect even though the parties thereafter settled and obtained a stipulated order from a different judge vacating key portions of the statement of decision.  The opinion contains a lengthy discussion of authorities on the point and the policy factors favoring treating the statement of decision as final for purposes of precluding relitigation of the issues it decided.  The opinion also holds that the statement of decision’s finding that plaintiff was guilty of unclean hands was necessarily decided as it was one of the key grounds on which the trial court ruled against plaintiff in that case.  Also, that finding was subject to review on appeal even though the trial court’s decision was supported by an alternative ground.  An affirmance only on the alternative ground would have robbed the finding of unclean hands of collateral estoppel effect.  Plaintiff’s voluntary choice to forego an appeal and settle instead is no reason to deny the statement of decision collateral estoppel effect.