The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roberts, District Judge.
On August 10, 1998, plaintiff William B. Flynn, Jr., a co-owner
and resident at a local cooperative apartment building, hit the
building receptionist, called her a "bitch," and was arrested and
charged with assault.*fn1 This was neither his first nor last
act that triggered a complaint.*fn2 Between November of 1997 and
August 18, 1998, the cooperative board received complaints that
Mr. Flynn harassed a resident; harassed, yelled at, insulted,
threatened and was verbally abusive toward the receptionist;
damaged a car blocking his parking space; attempted to force
entry into the switchboard cage; was drunk in public areas of the
building; vandalized a resident's car, and twice stole plates
from a resident's car.*fn3 Mr. Flynn did not attend a meeting to
which the board had invited him where it considered his behavior
and his continued residency.*fn4 The cooperative ultimately sued
in D.C. Superior Court to evict plaintiffs.
One day before the scheduled Superior Court trial, plaintiffs
filed in federal court a motion for a temporary restraining order
essentially seeking to stop the local court trial.*fn5 They
argued that the cooperative was illegally discriminating against
them because of Mr. Flynn's alcoholism, a condition he first
claimed only days before the scheduled trial.*fn6 Following a
hearing the same day, this court denied the motion. The trial
proceeded and the Superior Court awarded judgment to the
Plaintiffs William and Francine Flynn allege in the instant
complaint that the defendant housing cooperative, 3900 Watson
Place, Inc., violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et
seq., by discriminating against them on the basis of Mr. Flynn's
alcoholism and hearing impairment. The defendant asserts that
this claim is barred by the doctrine of res judicata because
the claim arises out of a cause of action already litigated
between the parties in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of D.C.
Superior Court. The court concludes that District of Columbia law
precludes relitigation of plaintiffs' Fair Housing Act claim in
federal court because that claim arises from the same nucleus of
facts as those adjudicated in the landlord-tenant court, and the
plaintiffs had an opportunity to raise their Fair Housing Act
claim as a defense in that proceeding. Therefore, as a matter of
law, plaintiffs' claim must be dismissed with prejudice.*fn7
The Flynns were represented by counsel at trial and were
permitted to call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, present
evidence, and file a post-trial brief with that court before that
court issued its decision on the merits of the case.*fn9 The
Flynns were granted limited discovery fifteen days before
trial,*fn10 and received discovery documents one week before
trial.*fn11 The Flynns planned to but did not call a witness
from the Psychiatric Institute because that witness reportedly
was unavailable on the afternoon of February 17, 1999.*fn12
While the Flynns were prohibited by the Landlord and Tenant
Branch's procedural rules from filing a counterclaim alleging a
violation of the Fair Housing Act, see Super. Ct. R. Civ. P. L
& T 5(b), the Flynns did raise their Fair Housing Act claim as a
defense in the landlord-tenant possession action.*fn13 The
Flynns voluntarily withdrew that defense at the end of the
In a Memorandum and Order issued on March 18, 1999, Judge
Burgess of the D.C. Superior Court determined that the Board of
Directors at 3900 Watson Place "acted within their authority in
terminating the residency rights of the [Flynns]."*fn15 Judge
Burgess entered judgment for possession in favor of 3900 Watson
Place and against the Flynns.
Summary judgment may be granted in defendant's favor if there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the defendant
demonstrates that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
See Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). It is the defendant who bears the
initial burden of demonstrating that there are no genuine issues
of material fact in dispute. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In
reviewing the defendant's motion for summary judgment, this Court
must draw all justifiable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct.
2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
The facts in this case are largely undisputed. The question
which must be resolved is whether, viewing the facts in a light
most favorable to the plaintiffs, defendant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law because the doctrine of res
judicata bars plaintiffs' from pursuing their Fair Housing Act
claim in federal district court.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1738, federal courts are required "to give
the same preclusive effect to state court judgments that those
judgments would be given in the courts of the State from which
the judgments emerged." Kremer v. Chemical Construction Corp.,
456 U.S. 461, 466, 102 S.Ct. 1883, 72 L.Ed.2d 262 (1982). This
Court must therefore look to the District of Columbia ...