Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the City of Providence, on Plaintiff’s amended complaint alleging that she fell and sustained injuries due to the City’s negligence in maintaining its sidewalk, holding that Plaintiff failed to provide notice of the location of her injury in a “reasonably sufficient manner.” In dismissing the complaint, the superior court concluded that Plaintiff’s notice of claim failed to describe with sufficient specificity of location where the incident giving rise to the claim occurred was defective as a matter of law. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that because Plaintiff’s notice was geographically inaccurate, it was inadequate, and Plaintiff’s attempt to cure the defective notice was invalid because it was filed outside the sixty-day limitations period for filing a notice of claim under R.I. Gen. Laws 45-15-9. View "Ahearn v. City of Providence" on Justia Law

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In this protracted litigation between Carol and A.L. Ballard and SVF Foundation and the Foundation’s predecessor owner regarding certain property, the Supreme Court affirmed summary judgments and an order of dismissal entered by the superior court on the eve of trial. The Court held that, contrary to the Ballards’ contentions on appeal, the superior court properly entered judgments on claims concerning the property sewer system and a driveway easement, properly dismissed an accounting claim based on an in-court conference, and did not err in denying the Ballards’ motion for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure against the attorney for the Foundation. View "Ballard v. SVF Foundation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting the motions for summary judgment filed by Defendants - a Union and the Treasurer for the City of Providence - holding that the Court need not pass on the merits of the superior court’s ruling because, under the raise-or-waive rule, Plaintiff forfeited his right to appellate review. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the hearing justice erred in granting Defendants’ motions for summary judgment because the City could not terminate him for off-duty conduct and because the Union did not comply with its duty to fairly represent him. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiff was precluded from pursuing his right to appellate review because he failed to comply with the dictates of Rule 16(a) of the Supreme Court Rules of Appellate Procedure in his appellate brief in this case. View "Terzian v. Lombardi" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs did not have standing to seek review of the Town of New Shoreham’s decision to purchase a majority of the shares of Block Island Power Company (BIPCO). Plaintiffs - certain residents and taxpayers of the Town and BIPCO ratepayers - filed a motion seeking to enjoin the closing of sale of two-thirds of the shares of BIPCO by the New Shoreham town council. The superior court granted the Town’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Plaintiffs violated Rules 8 and 19 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure and that the superior court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the dispute. The stock sale subsequently closed. Plaintiffs appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this action. View "Warfel v. Town of New Shoreham" on Justia Law

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Collateral estoppel is not applicable to issues determined in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal when the issues are “only a small part of a larger, ongoing criminal investigation.” Defendant in this case was cited in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal with the civil violation of reasonable and prudent speeds. Defendant was also charged criminally in Superior Court with driving under the influence, serious bodily injury resulting and reckless driving. Defendant sought to dismiss his criminal charges, arguing that the Traffic Tribunal magistrate determined that he was not operating the vehicle, and therefore, the issue could not be relitigated based on collateral estoppel. The Superior Court magistrate granted the motion to dismiss. A Superior Court justice reversed the dismissal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that in matters that are only a small part of a larger, ongoing criminal investigation, the Traffic Tribunal’s process is insufficient to estop a later criminal proceeding. View "State v. Minior" on Justia Law

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At issue was a decision of the Retirement Board of the Employees’ Retirement System of the City of Providence (City) to reduce the pension benefits of Frank Corrente after he was convicted of six felony counts in a federal district court. Specifically, the Board revoked a portion of Corrente’s pension benefits and ordered him to return a portion of the benefits that he had received. This appeal concerned three appeals - one by Corrente, another by intervenors the City Mayor and the City, and the third by the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in finding that the intervenors satisfied the requirements to intervene under Rule 24(a) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure; (2) the trial justice appropriately applied the standard of review set forth in the Administrative Procedures Act; (3) the Board’s decision to reduce, rather than revoke, Corrente’s pension benefits was not arbitrary, capricious, or affected by other errors or law; and (4) the trial justice did not err in confirming the retirement board’s decision to deny Corrente’s request for a tax credit on pension benefits that he had received but was required to return to the Board. View "Retirement Board of the Employees’ Retirement System of City of Providence v. Corrente" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of first-degree murder. The court held (1) even though Defendant’s trial commenced after the 180 days required by the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IAD), Defendant’s federal sentence’s expiration nullified any rights he had under the IAD, and the delay in bringing the case to trial was a result of Defendant’s own pretrial motions; (2) the trial justice did not err in denying Defendant’s motions to suppress the seizure of his cell phone and the records of that cell phone, as well as other evidence retrieved from his apartment; (3) Defendant’s argument that the trial justice erred in allowing the admission of statements he made while he was in the hospital was waived; and (4) the sentence imposed on Defendant was not unduly harsh or unwarranted. View "State v. Tejeda" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Brown University and the City of Providence. In count one of their complaint Plaintiffs sought a declaration that the university’s construction of an artificial turf field hockey field with attendant bleachers, electronic scoreboard, press box, and public-address system was an unlawful use under the Providence zoning ordinance. The superior court granted summary judgment to Defendants as to count one. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that the hearing justice erred in finding that Plaintiffs had no standing with respect to count one because, as abutting property owners, Plaintiffs clearly established an articulable injury in fact. View "Key v. Brown University" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from litigation beginning in 2000 between feuding neighbors who disputed several issues, including the details of an easement that resulted from a court-mandated land petition. In 2005, the Ballards filed an answer to SVF Foundation’s fifth amended complaint and also counterclaimed, alleging, inter alia, that SVF Foundation was interfering with the Ballards’ easement that ran across SVF’s property. The superior court granted summary judgment to SVF. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that the hearing justice erred when he applied law-of-the-case in his ruling on SVF’s motion for summary judgment. View "Hamilton v. Ballard" on Justia Law

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In 2000, Husband retained Attorney to draft an antenuptial agreement in anticipation of his marriage to Wife. In 2005, Wife filed for divorce. The petition was dismissed in a settlement that required the parties to execute a postnuptial agreement. Attorney drafted the agreement. In 2010, Wife again filed for divorce. Husband and Wife settled. In 2012, Husband filed suit against Attorney and his Law Firm (collectively, Defendants), alleging that Attorney negligently drafted the antenuptial and postnuptial agreements and negligently advised him. At issue in this appeal was a discovery order compelling production of any antenuptial or postnuptial agreements drafted or prepared by Attorney while he was employed at Law Firm. Defendants argued before the Supreme Court that the documents exceeded the scope of permissible discovery and were protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Supreme Court affirmed the discovery order, holding (1) the documents at issue were discoverable; and (2) Defendants did not have standing to assert the attorney-client privilege on behalf of their clients in this case, and the superior court protected the confidential interests contained in the documents by requiring redaction. View "DeCurtis v. Visconti, Boren & Campbell, Ltd." on Justia Law