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Carrollsburg v. Anderson

February 14, 2002

CARROLLSBURG, A CONDOMINIUM UNIT OWNERS ASSOCIATION, ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
ERIC ANDERSON, ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CA-2901-99) (Hon. Steffen W. Graae, Trial Judge)

Before Steadman, Schwelb, and Reid, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reid, Associate Judge

Argued January 2, 2001

In Taylor v. Eureka Inv. Corp., 482 A.2d 354 (D.C. 1984), we held that the owners of town house units in Carrollsburg Square, in the Southwest section of the District of Columbia ("Carrollsburg Square owners" or "appellees"), who maintained that they had a right to park without charge in an underground garage in the nearby Carrollsburg high-rise apartment building condominium ("Carrollsburg Condominium") due to a parking easement, "were entitled to judgment as a matter of law." We stated that "[t]he covenant clearly does not suggest that the [grantors] granted the parking easement in consideration for a monthly fee," id. at 358, but that on the contrary, "the owners granted the parking rights . . . in exchange for the zoning exception." Id. Accordingly, "[t]he subsequent owners of the servient estate cannot now claim a right to additional compensation." Id. at 359.

Some fifteen years after our decision in Taylor, supra, a new dispute arose when the Carrollsburg Condominium Unit Owners Association (the "Carrollsburg Condominium Association" or "appellants") sought to impose a maintenance fee on the Carrollsburg Square owners for the upkeep of the underground parking garage in the Carrollsburg Condominium. The dispute intensified when the Carrollsburg Condominium Association relocated access to the underground parking from the interior lobbies and elevators of the Carrollsburg Condominium to exterior ramps.

In response to the actions of the Carrollsburg Condominium Association, the Carrollsburg Square owners filed suit challenging the parking maintenance fee and the relocation of the easement. Appellants and appellees lodged motions for partial summary judgment on specified counts of the complaint. As indicated in the Factual Summary section of this opinion, the trial court ultimately disposed of all counts of appellees' complaint, as well as appellants' counterclaim. In part, the court ordered: (1) "that a permanent injunction be entered whereby [appellants] will provide parking as stated in the [accessory parking c]ovenant free of any and all charges whatsoever, whether they be designated for use or for maintenance, repair, or any other named reason"; and (2) "that [appellants] permit [appellees] . . . use of the lobbies and elevators to access the underground garage as established by custom. . . ."

The Carrollsburg Condominium Association appealed. Because we detect no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

FACTUAL SUMMARY

The record on appeal shows that in April 1999, appellants notified appellees that they were each required to pay $20 per month, retroactive to January 1, 1999, or a total of $80 payable by April 12, 1999, for the "maintenance, repair and replacement expenses associated with the parking spaces" in the Carrollsburg Condominium. When appellees refused to pay the maintenance fee, they were denied access to their underground parking spaces through the lobby and elevators of the Carrollsburg Condominium. Instead, they had to access their parking spaces from the outside through parking or automobile ramps. In reaction to the denial of access through the lobby and elevators, the Carrollsburg Square owners filed a verified complaint containing six counts against the Carrollsburg Condominium Association, its Board of Directors, and members of the Board in their individual and official capacities (collectively "the Carrollsburg Condominium Association" or "appellants"). *fn1 The Carrollsburg Condominium Association filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment that the Carrollsburg Square owners were required "to contribute to the costs of operating, maintaining, repairing and replacing the underground garage. . . ."

The parties filed cross partial motions for summary judgment *fn2 which essentially raised the same issues. By order docketed on December 10, 1999, the trial court denied the Carrollsburg Condominium Association's motion for partial summary judgment as to the breach of covenant count on res judicata grounds because it could have "raise[d] the issue of [parking] maintenance [fees] by counterclaim at any time during the Taylor litigation," or made appropriate post-judgment motions. Having determined that Taylor, supra, recognized the existence of an express easement located in the lobbies and elevators of the Carrollsburg Condominium, the trial court granted summary judgment on that count on behalf of the Carrollsburg Square owners, and dismissed their prescriptive easement count as moot. Moreover, since the Carrollsburg Condominium Association "is a privately owned condominium, not a public accommodation. . . .," the trial court dismissed the ADA count of the complaint. It also dismissed the DCHRA count, in part because the Carrollsburg Square owners never sought reasonable accommodations. *fn3 Finally, the trial court ordered that:

a permanent injunction be entered whereby [the Carrollsburg Condominium Association] will provide parking as stated in the 1964 Covenant and [the trial court's 1985 order]. This parking privilege is to be provided free of any and all charges whatsoever, whether they be designated for use or maintenance, repair, or any other named reason; [and that:]

[the Carrollsburg Condominium Association] permit [the Carrollsburg Square owners], their successors, invitees, and guests, use of the lobbies and elevators to access the underground garage as established by custom; which use constitutes "legal access" and "legal ingress and egress", and provide such keys and unobstructed access as [is] enjoyed by other [Carrollsburg] residents, without charges of any kind. . . .

The Carrollsburg Condominium Association's motion for reconsideration was denied, mainly for the reasons stated in the trial court's December 10th order. In addition, with respect to the trial judge's application of the res judicata doctrine, the court pointed out that the issue was raised in appellees' answer to the appellant's counterclaim, and that, at ...


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