Morgan v. Highland Heights of Kentucky, LP et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: It is ordered that 1) defendant's motion to dismiss 10 be and is hereby GRANTED AS TO PLAINTIFF'S FHAA CLAIM and 2) Plaintiff's state law claim be and is hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1367(c)(3). A separate judgment shall enter concurrently herewith. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 12/31/2013.(TED)cc: COR, Veronica Morgan via U.S. Mail
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2013-114
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS OF
KENTUCKY, LP, et. al.
This is an action under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (“FHAA”),
42 U.S.C. '' 3601, et seq., and a state law defamation claim.
the Court has supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) for
the state law claim.
This matter is before the Court on the Defendants’ motion to
dismiss (Doc. 10).
Veronica Morgan (“Plaintiff”) lived at Hampton Farms Apartments
operated by the defendants, Highland Heights of Kentucky, LP, Village
Green Management Company, LLC, Tracy Roy, and Jennifer Bevins
(Doc. 10 p. 2).
Plaintiff requested her son, a black
male, be added to the lease, which the Defendants denied.
Shortly thereafter, on July 31, 2011, Plaintiff’s lease was
renewed by Defendants.
The renewed lease terminated on August
On July 12, 2012, Defendants exercised their right to
deny Plaintiff a further renewal of her lease.
to vacate the premise by August 15, 2012, the lease’s termination
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The apartment complex initiated an eviction action against
Plaintiff on August 22, 2012.
(Doc. 10-1 p. 1).
On August 30, 2012,
the Campbell County District Court found Plaintiff guilty of forcibly
detaining the apartment and ordered that she vacate the apartment by
September 6, 2012.
On September 5, 2012 Plaintiff
appealed this decision to the Campbell County Circuit Court, which
affirmed the District Court’s prior ruling on June 17, 2013.
In addition, on August 30, 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint with
the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (the “KCHR”)1 alleging that
Hampton Farms’ decision to deny renewal of her lease was based on
The KCHR, on February 21, 2013,
denied Plaintiff’s racial discrimination complaint, stating: “This
complaint is dismissed with prejudice upon a finding of no probable
cause to believe that the Respondent has engaged in an unlawful
practice in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.”
Plaintiff failed to appeal KCHR’s decision and time has expired for
her to seek additional review of it.
Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a clear cause of action
under the FHAA.
However, Plaintiff is acting pro se and this Court
grants parties the right to freely amend their complaint.
The complaint was originally filed with the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). (Doc. 13-1). It was referred
to the KCHR as required by 42 U.S.C. 3610(f) because Kentucky’s law is
substantially similar to the FHAA. (Doc. 13-1 p. 5).
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Plaintiff could cure this defect.
Thus, the Court assumes Plaintiff
has pled a proper FHAA claim.
A. Plaintiff’s FHAA claim is barred because the KCHR already
decided this exact issue.
1. Kentucky state administrative agency decisions are
given preclusive effect.
The Supreme Court has held that when a state administrative
agency “acting in a judicial capacity ... resolves disputed issues of
fact properly before it which the parties have had an adequate
opportunity to litigate, federal courts must give the agency's
factfinding the same preclusive effect to which it would be entitled
in the State's courts.”
Univ. of Tennessee v. Elliott, 478 U.S. 788,
799 (1986) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
“Kentucky has for many years followed the rule that the decisions
of administrative agencies acting in a judicial capacity are entitled
to the same res judicata effect as judgments of a court.”
Univ. Hosp. of Albert B. Chandler Med. Ctr., Inc., 975 S.W.2d 104, 105
(Ky. Ct. App. 1998).
The KCHR acts in a judicial capacity.
Kentucky Comm'n on Human Rights v. Fraser, 625 S.W.2d 852, 854 (Ky.
1981) (“The mere fact that the Commission is involved in adjudication
does not in itself render the statute unconstitutional as a usurpation
of judicial power.”)
Thus, this Court must give preclusive effect to
KCHR’s decisions, as it is a state administrative agency acting in a
Further, KRS § 344.270 states: “A final determination by a state
court or a final order of the commission of a claim alleging an
unlawful practice under KRS 344.450 shall exclude any other
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administrative action or proceeding brought in accordance with KRS
Chapter 13B by the same person based on the same grievance.”
the statute allows for civil remedies for civil right violations.
KRS § 344.450.
The statute also allows for judicial review of
administrative decisions, but only after the party exhausts all
available administrative remedies.
See KRS § 13B.140(2).
Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and
Urban Development (“HUD”) which referred it to the Kentucky Commission
on Human Rights in accordance with 42 U.S.C. 3610(f).
Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that defendant racially discriminated
against her in determining whether to renew her lease.
The KCHR dismissed her complaint with prejudice.
Thus, Plaintiff’s KCHR complaint, which was dismissed with
prejudice, bars her from filing the same claim in this Court.
Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, the
administrative agency decision is final and given preclusive effect,
barring Plaintiff from re-litigating the same claim here.
2. In addition, the doctrine of issue preclusion bars
Plaintiff’s FHAA claim based on the KCHR’s decision.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has established four requirements for
“First, the issue in the second case must be the same as
the issue in the first case. Restatement (Second) of
Judgments § 27 (1982). Second, the issue must have been
actually litigated. Id. Third, even if an issue was
actually litigated in a prior action, issue preclusion will
not bar subsequent litigation unless the issue was actually
decided in that action. Id. Fourth, for issue preclusion
to operate as a bar, the decision on the issue in the prior
action must have been necessary to the court's judgment.
Page 4 of 7
Yeoman v. Com., Health Policy Bd., 983 S.W.2d 459, 465 (Ky. 1998).
Further, “[t]he doctrine of issue preclusion, which may be used
either “offensively” or “defensively,” allows the use of the earlier
judgment by one not party to the original action to preclude
relitigation of matters litigated in the earlier action.”
S.W.2d at 105.
But “the inquiry must always be as to the point or
question actually litigated and determined in the original action, not
what might have been thus litigated and determined.”
Louisville v. Louisville Prof'l Firefighters Ass'n, Local Union No.
345, IAFF, AFL-CIO, 813 S.W.2d 804, 807 (Ky. 1991).
Given the facts above, the four requirements for issue preclusion
are satisfied here.
The issue presented here is the same as presented
to KCHR, the issue was actually litigated, decided, and it was
necessary for judgment in the prior action.
Because the requirements
are met, and because Kentucky state courts would give this decision
preclusive effect, Plaintiff’s FHAA claim is barred from being brought
in this Court.
The doctrine of issue preclusion bars Plaintiff’s FHAA claim
based on Kentucky’s Campbell County Circuit Court decision as well.
The same issue preclusion rules apply to Kentucky state court
Hampton Farms initiated an eviction action against
Plaintiff when she failed to vacate her apartment after her lease
The Campbell County District Court found Plaintiff guilty
of forcible detainer.
Plaintiff appealed this decision to the
Campbell County Circuit Court, which affirmed the District Court.
Page 5 of 7
Plaintiff then appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where the
case is held in abeyance, awaiting her partial filing fee.
Plaintiff argued, in the Campbell County Circuit Court, that the
denial of her lease renewal was based on racial discrimination, and as
such, the denial violated her rights.
However, the Campbell County
Circuit Court held that “the lack of evidence regarding the alleged .
. . racial discrimination policies and the admissions made by
[Plaintiff], the District Court’s findings are supported by
(Doc. 10-1 p. 3).
Thus, the issue is the same
here as before the Campbell County Circuit court, that the Defendants
racially discriminated against Plaintiff, and the issue was litigated,
decided and was necessary for the Campbell County Circuit Court to
If there was evidence of racial discrimination, the
Campbell County Circuit Court would not have been able to enter
judgment against Plaintiff.
Therefore, issue preclusion is
applicable, and Plaintiff’s FHAA claim is barred in this Court.
Therefore, having reviewed this matter, and the Court being
otherwise sufficiently advised,
IT IS ORDERED (1) that the Defendants’ motion to dismiss (Doc.
10) be, and is hereby, GRANTED AS TO PLAINTIFF’S FHAA CLAIM and (2)
Plaintiff’s state law claim be, and is hereby, DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
A separate judgment shall enter concurrently herewith.
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This 31st day of December, 2013.
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