Justia Rhode Island Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant alleging that she was injured after falling through a defective stair and that Defendant was negligent in that he had breached his duty to keep the premises in a safe and reasonable manner. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendant, finding that Plaintiff had failed to provide any competent evidence that would tend to show that Defendant was negligent. The Supreme court affirmed, holding that no genuine issues of material fact existed and that the hearing justice properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s complaint. View "Cooley v. Kelly" on Justia Law
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Defendant owned a property on Arnold Street. Defendant executed a note in favor of Ameriquest Mortgage Company secured by a mortgage on the Arnold Street property. Plaintiff asserted that Ameriquest assigned the Arnold Street mortgage to Deutsche Bank. Plaintiff later commended this litigation seeking a declaratory judgment that the Arnold Street mortgage was a valid, perfected first-priority mortgage on the Arnold Street property and that full payment or satisfaction had not been received on the Arnold Street note. The motion justice granted summary judgment for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) contrary to Defendant’s contention, there was not a genuine dispute of material fact with respect to whether the Arnold Street note was endorsed; and (2) the Arnold street mortgage was validly assigned to Plaintiff. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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Some four years after Plaintiff suffered a casualty loss to his property, Plaintiff sued Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Defendant), which insured the property pursuant to a policy that it had issued to Plaintiff, alleging breach of contract and bad faith. Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the claim must fail because Plaintiff did not fully comply with the provisions of the policy and because Plaintiff brought suit more than two years after the date of loss, in contravention of the terms of the insurance contract. The hearing justice granted Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to adhere to the two-year limitation provision, Plaintiff was not entitled to relief. View "Chase v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant was found guilty of two counts of felony assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, and other offenses. Appellant filed a pro se application for postconviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The trial justice denied postconviction relief. On appeal, Appellant argued that deficiencies on the part of trial counsel prejudiced him in his trial and conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to meet his burden of establishing ineffective assistance of counsel entitling him to postconviction relief. View "Chum v. State" on Justia Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction on five counts of first-degree child molestation rendered after a jury trial. After denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial, the trial justice sentenced Defendant to five concurrent life sentences. The Supreme Court held (1) in dealing with Defendant’s motion for a new trial, the trial justice did not commit clear error or overlook or misconceive material and relevant evidence relating to a critical issue in the case; and (2) Defendant’s “constitutional right to present a full and fair defense” was not denied when the trial justice minimally limited Defendant’s cross-examination of two witnesses. View "State v. Ogoffa" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Dr. David Coppe (Defendant) in this medical malpractice action. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant breached the standard of care for treatment of a cellulitis ulcer, which required right foot bone amputation. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendant after precluding Plaintiffs from relying on expert witness testimony in the case. The Supreme Court held (1) any challenge to the ruling precluding Plaintiffs’ proposed expert witness was waived; (2) Plaintiffs were permitted to argue the facts of their case, and the grant of summary judgment was not in error; and (3) there was no evidence that the hearing justice was biased against Plaintiffs. View "Bartlett v. Coppe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a new trial. The charges against Defendant arose from an incident involving Jessica Nunez and Defendant’s use of a knife on one date and a shooting on a subsequent date in which Theodora Nunez, Jessica’s mother, was injured. The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a new trial, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in his analysis or conclusion in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial; and (2) the trial justice did not commit clear error or overlook or misconceive material and relevant evidence in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial. View "State v. Diaz" on Justia Law
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At issue in this case was the correct statutory interpretation of the manner in which state education aid funds received by the Bristol Warren Regional School District (the district) should be calculated and apportioned to the towns of Bristol and Warren. The superior court granted Warren’s petition for writ of mandamus, injunctive relief, and a complaint for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the superior court (1) did not err when it failed to bar Warren’s claims pursuant to the doctrine of res judicata; (2) did not err by declining to dismiss the action because other school districts had not been joined; (3) did not err when it did not give full deference to the Rhode Island Department of Education’s interpretation of the statutory framework concerning the proper manner of calculating and allocating state aid to regional school districts; and (4) did not misinterpret the governing statutory scheme or ignore the statutory definition of “community” as it applies to funding the district. View "Town of Warren v. Bristol Warren Regional School District" on Justia Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial justice’s determination that Plaintiff’s reappointment to his fourth consecutive two-year term as assistant zoning inspector in the Town of North Smithfield did not constitute a contract of employment. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging breach of employment contract and a violation of his constitutional rights after his employment was terminated for budgetary reasons. The trial court entered final judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial justice’s decision, holding that Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to support his contention that a valid contract existed. View "Andoscia v. Town of North Smithfield" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a claim against Testator’s estate for $2 million. The superior court awarded Plaintiff the amount requested under the provisions of the Testator’s last will and testament. The hearing justice then reduced the $2 million by the proceeds of a life insurance policy, ultimately granting summary judgment to Plaintiff in the amount of $1,550,000. Thereafter, the hearing justice awarded Plaintiff the requested amount of attorney’s fees but denied her request for prejudgment interest. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the trial justice, holding that the trial justice erred in granting summary judgment where this matter required fact-finding and conclusions of law with respect to Testator’s intent because the will did not clearly specify under what circumstances Plaintiff was to receive the sum of $2 million or other amount; and (2) an earlier stipulation entered in the family court did not control the outcome of this case in accordance with the principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel. Remanded. View "Glassie v. Doucette" on Justia Law
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