Justia Rhode Island Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
DiMaggio v. Tucker
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this foreclosure case, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Defendant signed a promissory note in favor of Plaintiff that consolidated numerous debts that Defendant owed Plaintiff in connection with various joint real estate projects. The promissory note was secured by a mortgage on certain real estate. When Defendant did not respond to a notice of default and demand for payment under the promissory note Plaintiff brought this action seeking injunctive relief and damages. Eventually, a second hearing justice granted Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on counts one and two of her six-count complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the second hearing justice properly applied the law of the case doctrine when granting Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment. View "DiMaggio v. Tucker" on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Real Estate & Property Law
McCollum v. McCollum
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial justice awarding attorneys' fees to Plaintiff in this divorce action, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce, and Defendant filed a counterclaim for divorce. As to attorneys' fees, the trial justice found that Plaintiff was entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees pursuant to the parties' postnuptial agreement's fee-shifting provision, as well as R.I. Gen. Laws 15-5-16. Defendant appealed, challenging the award of attorneys' fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice had both a statutory and contractual basis to award Plaintiff attorneys' fees and costs and did not abuse his discretion in making the award. View "McCollum v. McCollum" on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Family Law
Premier Land Development v. Kishfy
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Plaintiff in this case arising from a construction contract, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his assignments of error on appeal.Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial justice (1) did not err in applying the doctrine of merger by deed; (2) did not make a mistake in calculating damages; (3) did not err in denying Defendant's claim that Plaintiff breached the parties' contract; (4) did not err in finding that the implied warranty of habitability did not apply to this case; and (5) properly found that the subcontractors' mechanics' liens were assignable to Plaintiff. View "Premier Land Development v. Kishfy" on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law, Contracts, Real Estate & Property Law
Wild Horse Concepts, LLC v. Hasbro, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Hasbro, Inc. in this action alleging breach of an implied contract and other causes of action, holding that Appellants were not entitled to relief on appeal.Appellants, former Hasbro employees who now develop toy concepts, brought this complaint stemming from an action figure concept and play pattern that they developed, alleging that changes incorporated by Hasbro in its line of "Mashers" were virtually identical to the concept they had developed. Appellants brought this complaint alleging fraud, theft of intellectual property, and other causes of action. Judgment entered for Hasbro. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there existed no genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "Wild Horse Concepts, LLC v. Hasbro, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Intellectual Property
Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc. v. 96-108 Pine Street LLC
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court following a nonjury trial denying J.R. Vinagro Corporation's motion for attorneys' fees and costs against 96-108 Pine Street LLC, holding that the trial justice erred in finding that neither party prevailed in the litigation.Vinagro and Pine Street executed a demolition contract for a fixed fee. After work was disrupted, three parties filed separate cases. Following a nonjury trial, the trial justice issued a decision in favor of Vinagro on its breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims and in favor of Pine Street on its breach of contract claim. Vinagro and Pine Street each moved for attorneys' fees and costs based on section ten of the parties' contract. The trial justice declined to award either party attorneys' fees and costs. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding (1) the trial justice abused its discretion by not awarding Vinagro attorneys' fees and costs under the parties' demolition contract; and (2) the trial justice erred in concluding that Vinagro's unjust enrichment claim did not fall within the scope of the contract's fee-shifting provision. View "Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc. v. 96-108 Pine Street LLC" on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts
EDC Investment, LLC v. UTGR, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant and dismissed this complaint alleging, among other things, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed.In 2000, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a lease agreement whereby Plaintiff rented space from Defendant. In 2011, the parties entered into a termination of lease and release agreement providing Plaintiff with a buyout. Plaintiff later brought this action. Defendant want moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Plaintiff released all claims against Defendant in a release. The hearing justice granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's claims of breach of fiduciary duty and breaches of contract and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. View "EDC Investment, LLC v. UTGR, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Landlord - Tenant
Loffredo v. Shapiro
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all eight counts set forth in Plaintiffs' third amended complaint, holding that the hearing justice correctly granted summary judgment with respect to all counts except count eight.Plaintiffs filed a complaint containing counts sounding in, inter alia, breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and tortious interference with contractual relations. The hearing justice granted summary judgment against Plaintiffs on all counts, commenting that Plaintiffs' complaint was an attempt to circumvent the Statute of Frauds. The Supreme Court vacated in part, holding (1) the hearing justice erred in granting summary judgment on count eight since there were issues of material fact that precluded summary judgment; and (2) the judgment was otherwise without error. View "Loffredo v. Shapiro" on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Personal Injury
EdgengG (Private), Ltd. v. Fiberglass Fabricators, Inc.
In this commercial dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the final judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants based on Plaintiffs' failure to comply with orders to provide discovery, holding that there was no error.The parties in this case executed a contract providing that Defendants would sell finished fiberglass products manufactured by Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs later filed a complaint alleging that Defendants had failed to pay upon delivery of goods and that Defendants conspired to deprive Plaintiffs of profits and sales commission. The trial justice eventually granted Defendants' motion for entry of final judgment, referencing Plaintiffs' failure timely to respond to discovery requests and their failure to comply with superior court orders. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not abuse his discretion when he dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint and entered judgment in favor of Defendants. View "EdgengG (Private), Ltd. v. Fiberglass Fabricators, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Commercial Law, Contracts
Houle v. Liberty Insurance Corp.
The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Defendant in this insurance dispute, holding that the grant of judgment on the pleadings for Defendant was erroneous.The roof at Plaintiffs' home collapsed due to accumulating ice and snow. The property was insured through a policy issued by Defendant. Plaintiffs invoked the appraisal provision of the policy and later brought a second amended complaint alleging that Defendant had breached the terms of the policy by not performing a complete investigation and had acted in bad faith in the handling of their claim. The motion justice granted Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that Plaintiffs could not maintain an action for breach of contract against Defendant. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding that the allegations, as pled, could support a claim for breach of contract or breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. View "Houle v. Liberty Insurance Corp." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Insurance Law
Webster Bank, National Ass’n v. Rosenbaum
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Defendants' motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff, Webster Bank, National Association, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Plaintiff brought this action for breach of a loan agreement. In the superior court Defendants claimed that the Connecticut statute of limitations should apply because the parties agreed that Connecticut law would govern the loan agreement. The court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. On appeal, Defendants argued that the trial justice erred in applying Rhode Island's ten-year statute of limitations to Plaintiff's claim instead of Connecticut's six-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Rhode Island law controlled in this case. View "Webster Bank, National Ass'n v. Rosenbaum" on Justia Law