Submitted: April 16, 2019
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Western Division
SHEPHERD, MELLOY, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
district court dismissed Arthur Brown's lawsuit after
concluding it was barred under the doctrine of res judicata.
lawsuit stems from events that occurred at the Power and
Light District in Kansas City, Missouri. After purchasing a
few drinks at an outdoor bar, Brown sought to enter the
bar's associated restaurant to use the bathroom. When he
came out, three men told him he was trespassing and needed to
leave. Brown alleges the men cursed at him, using racial
slurs, and pushed Brown out of the restaurant. Brown then
walked directly to two nearby police officers and stated he
wanted to file a complaint. The officers detained Brown at a
security guard office and eventually let him go, after giving
him a ticket for trespassing.
then filed a claim in Missouri state court against Kansas
City Live, LLC; Kansas City Live Entertainment Block 126,
LLC; Downtown Irish Pub, LLC, doing business as The Dubliner;
First Response, Inc., Security Officer Rosenberger; Security
Officer Springer; and Mike Sosa (collectively "K.C.
Live") for assault, battery, false imprisonment,
negligence, and malicious prosecution. After Brown's
attorney did not timely respond to discovery requests, did
not respond to a motion to compel, and violated that
court's order directing him to respond to the discovery
request, the state court sanctioned Brown. After continued
failure by Brown's attorney to provide responses and to
comply with court orders, the state court dismissed the case
with prejudice. Brown hired a new attorney and filed a motion
to reconsider, which was denied.
then filed this suit in federal court. The complaint alleged
identical factual allegations, but sought relief under 42
U.S.C. § 1981. K.C. Live filed a joint motion to
dismiss, which the district court granted after finding the
claim was barred by res judicata in light of the state
court's prior dismissal with prejudice. Brown filed a
review de novo the district court's grant of a motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim based on res judicata .
. . [and] accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as
true." Schwartz v. Bogen, 913 F.3d 777, 780-81
(8th Cir. 2019) (italics removed, alteration in original)
(quoting Laase v. Cnty. of Isanti, 638 F.3d 853, 856
(8th Cir. 2011)). Res judicata operates so that "a final
judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or
their privies from relitigating issues that were or could
have been raised in that action." Federated
Dep't Stores, Inc. v. Motie, 452 U.S. 394, 398
(1981). Federal courts are required "to give preclusive
effect to state-court judgments whenever the courts of the
State from which the judgments emerged would do so."
Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 96 (1980) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 1738).
judgment was issued by a Missouri court, Missouri res
judicata law applies. See Brown v. St. Louis Police
Dept., 692 F.2d 393, 395-96 (8th Cir. 1982); see
also Laase, 638 F.3d at 856 ("[T]he law of the
forum that rendered the first judgment controls the res
judicata analysis."). Under Missouri law "res
judicata applies where (1) 'the prior judgment was
rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) the
decision was the final judgment on the merits, and (3) the
same cause of action and the same parties or their privies
were involved in both cases.'" Bannum, Inc. v.
City of St. Louis, 195 S.W.3d 541, 544 (Mo.Ct.App. 2006)
(quoting Biermann v. United States, 67 F.Supp.2d
1057, 1056 (E.D. Mo. 1999)). Res judicata bars relitigation
from the same "operative facts giving rise to one or
more bases for suing" and applies "to every point
properly belonging to the subject matter of litigation and
which the parties, exercising reasonable diligence, might
have brought forward at that time." Chesterfield
Village, Inc. v. City of Chesterfield, 64 S.W.3d 315,
318 (Mo. 2002) (en banc) (quoting King Gen. Contractors,
Inc. v. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints, 821 S.W.2d 495, 501 (Mo. 1991) (en banc)).
is no real dispute that the first two elements of res
judicata are met. The state court had jurisdiction. The state
court's decision - which dismissed Brown's case with
prejudice - was a final judgment. In Missouri, a dismissal
with prejudice is considered a judgment "on the
merits." Greasel Conversion, Inc. v. Massa, 399
S.W.3d 456, 461 (Mo.Ct.App. 2013); see also Mo. R.
Civ. P. 67.01 (stating "[a] dismissal with prejudice
bars the assertion of the same cause of action or claim
against the same party"); Williams v. Rape, 990
S.W.2d 55, 61 (Mo.Ct.App. 1999); Missouri ex rel. Willens
v. Gray, 757 S.W.2d 656, 658 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988).
the third element, there is no dispute that the parties are
the same in both cases, but Brown does argue the present case
arises from a different cause of action. We disagree.
"Separate legal theories are not to be considered as
separate claims, even if 'the several legal theories
depend on different shadings of the facts, or would emphasize
different elements of the facts, or would call for different
measures of liability or different kinds of
relief.'" King Gen. Contractors, Inc., 821
S.W.2d at 501 (quoting Siesta Manor, Inc. v. Cmty Fed.
Savs. & Loan Ass'n, 716 S.W.2d 835, 839
(Mo.Ct.App. 1986)); see also Chesterfield Village,
Inc., 64 S.W.3d at 319-20 (stating courts look to the
"factual bases for the claims, not the legal