Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, Civ. A. No. 81-0742 S.

CourtU.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
Writing for the CourtCotroneo & Cotroneo by S. Thomas Cotroneo, Johnston, R.I., for defendant
Citation563 F. Supp. 1283
Decision Date17 May 1983
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 81-0742 S.
PartiesAntone GONSALVES and Anthony Gonsalves v. The ALPINE COUNTRY CLUB.

563 F. Supp. 1283

Antone GONSALVES and Anthony Gonsalves
v.
The ALPINE COUNTRY CLUB.

Civ. A. No. 81-0742 S.

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island.

May 17, 1983.


Shuman & Ross by Robert A. Shuman, Providence, R.I., for plaintiffs.

Cotroneo & Cotroneo by S. Thomas Cotroneo, Johnston, R.I., for defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

SELYA, District Judge.

The instant action is an employment discrimination suit brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). The gravamen of the complaint is that the defendant, the Alpine Country Club ("Alpine") discharged the plaintiffs solely on account of race. Alpine has moved for summary judgment. Oral arguments were heard on April 4, 1983, and supplemental briefing has now been received. In support of its motion, the defendant has filed a detailed statement of material facts pursuant to Local Rule 12.1(a) of this Court. Since the plaintiffs have filed no counterstatement, and have proffered no affidavits, the facts as recited in the defendant's statement are deemed to be admitted. See Local Rule 12.1(d). In passing upon the issues presented, these facts, and the travel of the controversy, must first be reviewed.

I.

The plaintiffs, father (Antone) and son (Anthony), both black males, were contemporaneously employed as chefs at Alpine from June 30, 1976 to July 29, 1977, at which time the defendant discharged both of them. On or about November 17, 1977 Anthony Gonsalves lodged a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights ("HRC") in which he charged that the defendant was in violation of R.I.G.L. § 28-5-7.1 Specifically, Anthony Gonsalves alleged that the defendant discriminated against him on the basis of color and race; and that such course of discriminatory

563 F. Supp. 1284
conduct culminated in his dismissal from employment because he was black. Some five days later (November 22, 1977), Antone Gonsalves filed a substantially similar complaint with the HRC. In March of 1978, while the HRC grievances were pending, the plaintiffs filed complaints arising out of the same conduct and circumstances with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")

Meanwhile, the HRC investigated, and on October 6, 1978 ruled preliminarily that reasonable cause existed to believe the plaintiffs' allegations. The HRC thereafter, on December 12, 1978, issued separate complaints on behalf of each plaintiff. In each of these citations, the HRC alleged that the defendant had violated R.I.G.L. § 28-5-7. Alpine denied the charges, and the complaints were consolidated for administrative adjudication. Hearings were commenced on January 9, 1979 and were concluded on February 21, 1979. Upon consideration of the evidence adduced at the hearings, the HRC ruled on July 26, 1979 that Alpine had unlawfully discharged the plaintiffs on account of their race.

The defendant, pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 28-5-28,2 appealed that decision to the Rhode Island Superior Court (County of Providence). Justice Gallant of that tribunal, by slip opinion filed on July 11, 1980, Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, C.A. No. 79-2938 (R.I.Super.Ct. July 11, 1980), held that "there was no evidence of probative force presented which supported" the HRC findings, id. at 3; that Anthony "failed to establish a prima facie case of discriminatory discharge", id. at 4, and was "properly discharged without racial animus", id. and that, as to Antone, "there was no evidence of probative force presented to demonstrate that Antone's dismissal was racially motivated" id. at 5. Justice Gallant therefore concluded that, pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 42-35-15(g)(5),3 the HRC determinations were clearly erroneous, and reversed the decision as to each complainant, thereby effectively denying and dismissing the charges. The plaintiffs obtained a writ of certiorari from the Rhode Island Supreme Court on December 11, 1980, as a preliminary to review of Justice Gallant's rulings, but thereafter apparently lost interest; the appellate proceedings were subsequently dismissed for lack of prosecution following a show-cause hearing held in the state supreme court on June 18, 1981. Plaintiffs moved to reconsider the dismissal, but the motion for reconsideration was denied on July 16, 1981.4

In the meantime, however, the EEOC had also determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the defendant had discriminated against the plaintiffs. Following the termination of the state court action, apparently at the instance and request of the plaintiffs, the EEOC on September 4, 1981 issued a right-to-sue letter. Within ninety days of receipt thereof, the plaintiffs filed suit in this Court.

II.

Since the defendant has moved for brevis disposition pursuant to Rule 56, Fed.R.

563 F. Supp. 1285
Civ.P., the applicable standard should be noted. It is well settled that summary judgment can be granted only where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and where the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Emery v. Merrimack Valley Wood Products, Inc., 701 F.2d 985, 986 (1st Cir.1983); Hahn v. Sargent, 523 F.2d 461, 464 (1st Cir.1975), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 904, 96 S.Ct. 1495, 47 L.Ed.2d 754 (1976); United Nuclear Corp. v. Cannon, 553 F.Supp. 1220, 1226 (D.R.I.1982); Milene Music, Inc. v. Gotauco, 551 F.Supp. 1288, 1292 (D.R.I.1982). In determining whether these conditions have been met, the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, Emery v. Merrimack Valley Wood Products, Inc., 701 F.2d at 986; John Sanderson & Co. (WOOL) Pty. Ltd. v. Ludlow Jute Co., 569 F.2d 696, 698 (1st Cir.1978), indulging all inferences favorable to that party. Santoni v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 677 F.2d 174, 177 (1st Cir.1982); O'Neill v. Dell Publishing Co., 630 F.2d 685, 686 (1st Cir. 1980)

In the case at bar, the defendant has proffered twin theories in support of its motion. Since the Court finds the defendant's res judicata/collateral estoppel argument persuasive, however, the statute of limitations point need not be addressed.5

III.

The defendant contends that the plaintiffs are foreclosed from pursuit of the instant Title VII action by the bar of res judicata,6 ostensibly erected by the cumulative effect of the state court determinations in Gonsalves I. The touchstone of the defendant's argument is the recent Supreme Court decision in Kremer v. Chemical Construction Corp., 456 U.S. 461, 102 S.Ct. 1883, 72 L.Ed.2d 262 (1982). Kremer, who had been discharged by his employer, lodged a complaint with the EEOC. That agency, in turn, referred his complaint to the New York Division of Human Rights ("DHR"). Kremer alleged that he had been dismissed because of his religion and his national origin. DHR rejected these contentions. Kremer prosecuted an appeal from this ruling through various levels of the New York courts, which affirmed DHR's decision. Kremer, nothing daunted, obtained a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, and brought an action in federal court. His complaint was premised upon essentially the same charges of discrimination which the state courts had found meritless. The district court dismissed Kremer's action; the dismissal was affirmed on appeal, initially by the Second Circuit and ultimately by the Supreme Court. The Court's ratio decidendi was, in substance, that, assuming that the plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate his claims in the state forum, then 28 U.S.C. § 17387 "requires federal courts 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

563 F. Supp. 1286
U.S. at 466, 102 S.Ct. at 1889 (footnote omitted). The defendant asseverates, therefore, that since the state courts have rendered a final judgment8 in the premises in Gonsalves I, this Court must accord full faith and credit to that judgment and must debar plaintiffs' attempt to relitigate the discriminatory discharge issues in a federal forum

The plaintiffs, however, attempt to confess and avoid. They do not dispute the primacy of Kremer on its facts, but point out that Kremer involved an instance wherein the employee resorted to the state courts by appealing an adverse administrative decision. They juxtapose Kremer in contradistinction to the case at bar, where the employer, rather than the employee, sought out the state courts. The observation is, to an extent, well made; the Kremer majority, indeed, did not explicitly rule upon whether or not res judicata would apply where the employee had not reached out to secure state judicial review of agency action, but had been propelled into such a forum by the employer's pursuit of state court relief. Id. 456 U.S. at 504-05 & n. 18, 102 S.Ct. at...

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  • Tucker v. Defense Mapping Agency, Civ. A. No. 84-0387-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • April 29, 1985
    ...relief as a matter of law. Advance Financial Corp. v. Isla Rica Sales, 747 F.2d 21, 26 (1st Cir.1984); Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st Cir.1984). In so doing, the district judge must view the evidence in the light most beneficia......
  • McInnis v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-0422-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • January 14, 1986
    ...677 F.2d 174, 177 (1st Cir.1982); O'Neill v. Dell Publishing Co., 630 F.2d 685, 686 (1st Cir. 1980). Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st Cir.1984). See also Advance Financial Corp. v. Isla Rica Sales, Inc., 747 F.2d 21, 26-27 (1st C......
  • Blue Cross of Rhode Island v. Cannon, Civ. A. No. 83-0772 S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
    • June 22, 1984
    ...forthwith ..." in favor of any party entitled thereto as a matter of law. Fed.R. Civ.P. 56(c); see Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st Cir. 1984); United Nuclear Corp. v. Cannon, 553 F.Supp. 1220, 1226 (D.R.I.1982); Milene Music, In......
  • Russell v. Salve Regina College, Civ. A. No. 85-0628-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • November 17, 1986
    ...in the interests of expedition, the court merely reiterates what it said at an earlier date in Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st It is well settled that summary judgment can be granted only where there is no genuine issue as to an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Tucker v. Defense Mapping Agency, Civ. A. No. 84-0387-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • April 29, 1985
    ...relief as a matter of law. Advance Financial Corp. v. Isla Rica Sales, 747 F.2d 21, 26 (1st Cir.1984); Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st Cir.1984). In so doing, the district judge must view the evidence in the light most beneficia......
  • McInnis v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-0422-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • January 14, 1986
    ...677 F.2d 174, 177 (1st Cir.1982); O'Neill v. Dell Publishing Co., 630 F.2d 685, 686 (1st Cir. 1980). Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st Cir.1984). See also Advance Financial Corp. v. Isla Rica Sales, Inc., 747 F.2d 21, 26-27 (1st C......
  • Blue Cross of Rhode Island v. Cannon, Civ. A. No. 83-0772 S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
    • June 22, 1984
    ...forthwith ..." in favor of any party entitled thereto as a matter of law. Fed.R. Civ.P. 56(c); see Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st Cir. 1984); United Nuclear Corp. v. Cannon, 553 F.Supp. 1220, 1226 (D.R.I.1982); Milene Music, In......
  • Russell v. Salve Regina College, Civ. A. No. 85-0628-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • November 17, 1986
    ...in the interests of expedition, the court merely reiterates what it said at an earlier date in Gonsalves v. Alpine Country Club, 563 F.Supp. 1283, 1285 (D.R.I.1983), aff'd, 727 F.2d 27 (1st It is well settled that summary judgment can be granted only where there is no genuine issue as to an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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