Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiffs' claims based on lack of standing, holding that there was no error.In 2019, the General Assembly enacted the Reproductive Privacy Act, R.I. Gen. Laws chapter 4.13 of title 23 (RPA), effectively granting a right to abortion in line with Roe v. Wade. 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Plaintiffs initiated this action seeking to halt the passage of House Bill 5125, Substitute B, which later became the RPA. The trial justice denied relief. Plaintiffs then filed a complaint challenging the General Assembly's authority to enact the RPA. The trial court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring their claims. View "Benson v. McKee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's entry of partial final judgment in accordance with Sup. Ct. R. Civ. P. 54(b) and the dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction of Plaintiff's action under Sup. Ct. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) as to certain defendants, holding that the hearing justice did not err.At issue was the superior court's authority to exercise jurisdiction over claims brought against foreign corporate defendants based on a fatal injury to a Rhode Island resident following an accident that occurred outside of Rhode Island. The corporate defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, which the hearing justice granted. Partial final judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b) was entered in favor of the corporate defendants. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice (1) did not err in dismissing the claims against the corporate defendants based on a lack of personal jurisdiction; and (2) did not err in denying Plaintiff's request to conduct jurisdictional discovery. View "Martins v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Defendants' appeal of a superior court order denying their "motion to vacate" a foreign judgment rendered in New York, which was brought in accordance with the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, chapter 32 of title 9 of the Rhode Island General Laws, holding that the superior court did not err.In denying Defendants' motion to vacate, the hearing justice concluded that Defendants did not meet their "heavy burden" to overturn the New York default judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) New York law must be applied in addressing the forgery argument presented by Defendants; (2) applying New York law, Defendants failed to meet their burden of rebutting the presumption of due execution accompanying acknowledgements and notarial signatures, and therefore, the subject forum selection clause was valid; and (3) the New York court had personal jurisdiction over Defendants. View "Aspen American Insurance Co. v. East Coast Precast & Rigging LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendants seeking a declaratory judgment concerning the propriety of the foreclosure of Plaintiff's property, holding that the superior court did not err.Plaintiff named as defendants Residential Credit Solutions, Inc.; FV REO I, LLC; Franklin Venture, LLC; and DLJ Mortgage Capital, Inc. As part of her complaint, Plaintiff sought to quiet title concerning the property at issue and an award of punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. The hearing justice dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to serve all indispensable parties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's failure to meaningfully discuss the issues raised on appeal was fatal to Plaintiff's appeal. View "Osifodurin v. Residential Credit Solutions, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court concluding that the superior court is not vested with the inherent supervisory authority to order the public disclosure of grand jury materials that could potentially be reopened and that dealt with events for which the potentially relevant statute of limitations has not yet run, holding that the superior court does not have the authority to disclose grand jury material outside of Rule 6(e)(3) of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure.A statewide grand jury convened to investigate the possibility of potential criminality in connection with a government deal gone bad (the 38 Studios deal). The investigation concluded with an announcement that there were no provable criminal violations in connection with the deal. In a separate action, the State initiated civil litigation against individuals and entities involved in the 38 Studios deal, and settlements followed. Thereafter, the Governor filed a miscellaneous petition seeking release of the 38 Studios grand jury records, arguing that the superior court has the discretion to release grand jury materials. The superior court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the superior court does not have inherent authority to disclose grand jury materials beyond the parameters of the permitted disclosures set forth in Rule 6(e). View "In re 38 Studios Grand Jury" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Plaintiffs' request for declaratory and injunctive relief and ruling that the Town of Barrington lacked authority under its Home Rule Charter to enact an ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco products and prohibiting the providing of any tobacco products to persons under the age of twenty-one (the Tobacco Ordinance), holding that the Town lacked the authority to enact the Tobacco Ordinance.Specifically, the Court held that, while the Tobacco Ordinance was enacted to protect public health and safety, the ordinance constituted legislation concerning a matter of statewide concern, and therefore, it fringed upon the power of the state. Further, because the Town lacked the authority under its Home Rule Charter to enact the ordinance, the hearing justice did not err in declining to decide whether the ordinance was preempted by state law. View "K&W Automotive, LLC v. Town of Barrington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the order of the district court denying Appellant's motion to seal his records under R.I. Gen. Laws 12-1-12 on the grounds that because Defendant was charged with a civil violation rather than a criminal violation, he was not entitled to relief under the statute, holding that a person charged with a first violation of driving with a suspended license is entitled to have his records sealed under the provisions of section 12-1-12.In denying Defendant's motion to seal his records, the trial judge looked to the language of the statute, noting that it speaks only to criminal cases and is silent with respect to civil violations, and concluded that the Legislature had provided no mechanism to seal or expunge civil violations. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that where Defendant was detained by police but not arrested or charged with an offense, he was entitled to the benefits of section 12-1-12(a) with respect to the destruction and sealing of his records. View "State ex rel. Coventry Police Department v. Charlwood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendants, USAA Federal Savings Bank and Charles Baird, for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the trial justice was correct in finding that the superior court did not have personal jurisdiction over Defendants.This case stemmed from an alleged oral agreement between Plaintiff and Baird. Plaintiff was a resident of Rhode Island, and Baird was a resident of Florida. Plaintiff filed a complaint against both Baird and USAA, a bank incorporated and based in Texas with whom Baird maintained a personal checking account, seeking to recover certain funds plus consequential damages.The superior court dismissed the case against both defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court was correct in finding that it did not have either general personal jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction over USAA; and (2) the trial justice was correct in finding that the superior court did not have specific personal jurisdiction over Baird. View "Edward F. St. Onge v. USAA Federal Savings Bank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) that denied Petitioners' wage and hour claims against Delta Airline, Inc., holding that the superior court did not err in affirming the DLT's finding that R.I. Gen. Laws 25-3-3 was preempted by federal law.Petitioners were customer service agents for Delta at its facility at the T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. Petitioners filed separate individual "nonpayment of wages" complaints with DLT, alleging that Delta violated the provisions of section 25-3-3 by failing to pay Petitioners time-and-a-half for hours worked on Sundays and holidays. The hearing officer determined that section 25-3-3 was preempted by section 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(1) of the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA). The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners' claims were preempted by the ADA. View "Brindle v. Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on the grounds that the case was moot, holding that there was no justiciable controversy before the Court and that Plaintiffs failed to meet the burden of demonstrating that the issues raised in their complaint were of extreme public importance and were capable of repetition yet will evade review.After the National Education Association Rhode Island and the Middletown Teachers' Association/NEA (collectively, the Union) and the Middletown School Committee (school committee) reached a tentative successor agreement to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was due to expire the Town of Middletown refused to ratify the agreement. The Union filed suit challenging the denial. Thereafter, the parties agreed to a new three-year CBA, and the Town voted to ratify the agreement. The trial justice granted summary judgment for Defendants, the Town, the school committee, and the Middletown School Department. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err in granting summary judgment on the basis of mootness and that no exceptions to the mootness doctrine existed. View "National Education Ass'n Rhode Island v. Town of Middletown" on Justia Law