The events have been subsequent door neighbors whose daughters attended the identical daycare heart and have become buddies. [Kofsman] alleged that acrimony developed between the 2 households because of some religiously bigoted [anti-Semitic] statements, main Klement to refuse permission for her daughter to play with A.Ok. Klement purportedly instructed A.Ok. on at the very least 5 events that “my daughter would not wish to play with you,” inflicting the kid to cry. This led to a textual content message change between Klement and [Kofsman]’s spouse with the latter asking Klement to “please cease harassing my baby, husband and me,” and Klement in return calling her a “horrible particular person.”
In one other alleged incident, A.Ok. was having an out of doors playdate with one other baby within the neighborhood when Klement approached and instructed her daughter to present a present to the opposite baby. When A.Ok. tried to say hiya to Klement’s daughter, Klement allegedly started screaming, “Cease approaching my kids,” and “I am going to name the police for those who say hello to my baby.”
Throughout different episodes on this simmering battle, [Kofsman]’s spouse referred to as the police a number of instances to report Klement. On one event, she referred to as the police non-emergency line as a result of Klement had positioned a “please honk your horn for a birthday” check in entrance of their houses. After eight hours of listening to horns honking about each fifteen minutes, [Kofsman]’s spouse contacted the police, who despatched an officer to the Klement house for a report a few disturbance to the neighborhood.
One other occasion concerned [Kofsman]’s choice to hold a swing on a tree behind their home for A.Ok. Three days after hanging the swing, [Kofsman] discovered it had been eliminated. The neighborhood’s home-owner’s affiliation knowledgeable [Kofsman] that it eliminated the swing as a result of Klement had notified it that the swing was on her property. Finally, [Kofsman] and his household rented out their townhouse and moved to a unique location.
[Kofsman] then filed his first petition for an injunction, together with these occasions and others as a part of the petition and supporting testimony. After listening to proof from each events, the trial decide discovered that the incidents described didn’t meet the statutory necessities for an injunction:
[The Court]: [L]egally I do not discover that there’s an ongoing course of harassment based on the legislation…. I do not discover that the incident … was, you understand, meant to trigger hurt in any method, or was an act of—was a menace or was an act of intimidation. I do not doubt that it made your daughter really feel unhealthy, and I do not doubt that she was—you understand, that to a 4 and five-year-old that this sort of factor isn’t traumatic. I do not doubt that…. I simply do not assume it qualifies below this statute.
Three months later, [Kofsman] filed a second petition for an injunction in opposition to Klement, explaining that his household was shifting again to the home subsequent door to the Klements, that A.Ok. could be going to the identical faculty as Klement’s daughter, and so they felt they wanted “a protecting order in place to keep away from additional trauma and doable bodily hurt.” This second petition contained the identical allegations made within the first petition however added two new incidents wherein [Kofsman] claimed he had been instructed by a neighbor that Klement had approached the neighbor and “was slandering [Kofsman and his wife] and saying [they] go round suing individuals all over the place.”
The trial courtroom held an evidentiary listening to presided over by a unique decide than the one who dominated on the primary petition. [Kofsman] represented himself at this listening to and targeted his testimony on the occasions he personally witnessed and that had already been detailed on the earlier listening to. Nonetheless, he didn’t current proof associated to the 2 new incidents involving the neighbor….[T]he successor decide said,
I do not assume it ever makes a distinction whether or not an individual has utilized for an injunction three, 4 or 5 instances and did not get it. What’s vital is, do you’ve gotten the incidents, do you meet the statute, and I consider that at this level they’ve met the statute.
In making her oral pronouncement, the successor decide referenced most of the incidents between the 2 events, together with [Kofsman]’s allegations of anti-Semitic feedback, Klement’s interactions with A.Ok., and the removing of the tree swing. The successor decide granted an injunction for a six-month interval, and Klement appealed.
No, stated the appellate courtroom:
“Res judicata is a judicial doctrine used to bar events from relitigating claims beforehand determined by a last adjudication on the deserves.” … [But b]ecause the primary decide had beforehand thought-about the incidents described once more within the second listening to and located every of them inadequate to represent qualifying acts of harassment or stalking below the relevant statute, the successor decide was barred by res judicata from reconsidering those self same claims and deeming them qualifying incidents.
Mere disagreement with conclusions reached by a previous courtroom doesn’t keep away from the preclusive impact of res judicata. Even when the successor decide personally felt the incidents described within the first petition did represent stalking or harassment such that an injunction ought to have been entered, as a result of these incidents had already been thought-about, the doctrine of res judicata prevented the successor decide from imposing any injunction primarily based on any incident beforehand rejected as non-qualifying below the statute.
Whereas res judicata barred the re-litigation of the identical incidents offered on the first listening to, the 2 new incidents alleged within the second petition—that Klement complained to a mutual neighbor that [Kofsman] was litigious—wouldn’t have been barred by res judicata as a result of they occurred after the dedication of [Kofsman]’s first petition.
Nonetheless, [Kofsman] didn’t current proof associated to these new claims. As an alternative, [Kofsman] offered proof on the second listening to relating to solely the identical incidents described and adjudicated within the first petition and didn’t counsel any change or distinction in circumstances or details. Though the 2 newly added claims offered within the second petition could not have been barred by res judicata, the successor decide’s oral pronouncement made clear that she didn’t base her ruling on the 2 new incidents or on any earlier discovering relating to the existence of a qualifying incident.