Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Plaintiff filed an application with the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) seeking to expand his condominium unit. Defendants filed an objection to the proposal, asserting that Plaintiff did not own the property upon which he sought to expand his unit. CRMC denied the application. Plaintiff subsequently brought a complaint alleging slander of title and breach of contract and sought a declaratory judgment that he had the right to file his application with the CRMC. The trial justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that Rhode Island’s anti-SLAPP statute protected them from liability for questioning Plaintiff’s ownership of the land in their communications with the CRMC. The Supreme Court affirmed. Defendants then filed a motion seeking attorney fees incurred in defending the anti-SLAPP judgment on appeal. The hearing justice awarded Defendants $8,924 in attorney’s fees in connection with the appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed the award of attorney's fees, holding (1) the issue of attorney’s fees was properly before the superior court; and (2) the superior court did not abuse his discretion in awarding attorney’s fees. View "Sisto v. America Condo. Ass’n, Inc." on Justia Law

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Goat Island South Condominium (GIS) was comprised of three subcondominium residence areas - Harbor Houses Condominium (Harbor Houses), America Condominium (America), and Capella South Condominium (Capella). The Constellation Trust owned Unit 18 in Harbor Houses. Plaintiffs, America and Capella, filed an action against Defendants, the trustee of the Trust and Harbor Houses, seeking injunctive relief to bring a halt to the expansion of Unit 18 onto a limited common element. The trial justice concluded (1) Defendants were liable for breach of contract and for committing a common law trespass, (2) Plaintiffs’ allegation that Defendants breached restrictive covenants contained in the GIS Second Amended and Restated Declaration of Condominium (GIS SAR) was moot, and (3) Plaintiffs were not entitled to attorneys’ fees. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the trial justice erred in failing to award attorneys’ fees and costs to Plaintiffs based on the terms of the GIS SAR; and (2) the trial court did not otherwise err in its judgment. View "America Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Mardo" on Justia Law

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Kathryn Manning (Plaintiff), individually and as administratrix of the estate of Michael Manning (Manning) and on behalf of her four minor children, brought this negligence and wrongful death action against Dr. Peter Bellafiore after Manning suffered a fatal stroke. After a lengthy discovery period, the case proceeded to trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant. The trial justice subsequently granted Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial, and the Supreme Court affirmed. Thereafter, the trial justice granted Plaintiff’s motion to sanction both Defendant and the law firm that represented him at trial, White & Kelly, P.C. (WCK) under Rule 11 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure for their failure to make pretrial disclosures. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial justice did not abuse his discretion in finding that Dr. Bellafiore engaged in sanctionable misconduct; (2) the trial justice abused his discretion when he sanctioned WCK because the justice did not make a finding that the attorneys at WCK acted in “bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons”; and (3) the amount of sanctions imposed was based on an erroneous assessment of the evidence. View "Manning v. Bellafiore" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff owned several units in a waterfront luxury condominium complex when an incident involving a frozen water pipe and its diluvial aftermath caused extensive property damage to several of the units. Plaintiff filed a complaint against the owners of one condominium unit as well as several construction defendants, who were involved in building the condominium, alleging negligence and diminution of value of Plaintiff’s property. Final judgment was entered for all defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff could not recover loss-of-use damages during the time that the condominium units were under repair because Plaintiff conceded that it had not incurred any economic loss as a result of Defendants’ negligent conduct and because it failed to raise any claims that would allow recovery despite an absence of an economic loss. View "Newstone Dev., LLC v. East Pacific, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Brett Roy broke his neck when diving into a pond at World War II Veterans Memorial Park in Woonsocket. Roy and his wife (Plaintiffs) filed suit against the State, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), and two DEM employees (collectively, the State), alleging negligence and premises liability. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict for the State, concluding that the State had not “willfully or maliciously failed to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity at the pond.” The trial court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial after denying both parties’ motions for judgment as a matter of law. The State appealed, arguing that the trial justice erred in granting Plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial and that the State owed no duty to Roy. Plaintiffs cross-appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court and remanded with instructions to enter judgment for the State, holding that the State bore no liability for Roy’s injuries, either because diving is an open and obvious danger or because it is protected under the Recreational Use Statute, and therefore, the trial justice erred in denying the State’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. View "Roy v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiffs sued the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence (Defendant) alleging that a visiting priest sexually abused them more than four decades ago. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that the statute of limitations barred Plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that their inability to recall the abuse tolled the statute of limitations and that the trial justice erred in denying their request to seek discovery on their alternate tolling theory that Defendant fraudulently concealed their causes of action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under R.I. Gen. Laws 9-1-19, repressed recollection, in and of itself, is not a viable tolling mechanism against nonperpetrator defendants in childhood sexual abuse cases; and (2) the trial justice did not err when she denied Plaintiffs’ request to seek discovery on the alternate tolling theory. View "Hyde v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiff claims that on April 30, 2011 he sustained personal injuries during a “melee” at defendants’ Providence nightclub. On April 18, 2014, he filed a complaint that erroneously stated that the incident occurred on November 4, 2010. On April 20, 2015, defendants moved to dismiss, based on the three-year statute of limitations. Defendants’ counsel certified that he mailed the motion and a memorandum of law to plaintiff’s counsel, in addition to filing via the recently-installed electronic filing system now required by the Superior Court Rules. The motion’s hearing occurred as scheduled, on June 16. Plaintiff did not appear. On June 23, plaintiff moved to vacate the dismissal, indicating that his counsel did not receive notice. On June 25, 2015, final judgment entered dismissing plaintiff’s claim and plaintiff moved to amend his complaint to correct the date. Plaintiff’s counsel argued excusable neglect and that there was no issue of notice because the police report issued in connection with the incident, of which defendants had a copy, contained the correct date. The court denied the motion to vacate, but did not rule on plaintiff’s motion to amend. The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed, discerning no extenuating circumstances to excuse plaintiff’s failure to object to or to attend the hearing on defendants’ motion. View "Santos v. D. Laikos, Inc." on Justia Law

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Morse, a long-time fire-rescue captain, had separate work-related back injuries in 2009 and 2011. In both cases he was eventually released to work. Morse injured his back again while lifting a patient during a 2012 rescue call. After the third injury, he did not return to work. Pursuant to the Providence Code of Ordinances, Morse was evaluated by three independent medical examiners. There was disagreement concerning whether the code covers disability as the result of multiple injuries. One of the consultants found Morse not to be disabled. The Retirement Board of the Employees Retirement System of the City of Providence denied Morse’s application for an accidental disability pension, based solely on the board’s self-imposed “unanimity rule,” requiring that all three physicians agree that the applicant was permanently disabled as a result of a work-related injury. The Rhode Island Supreme Court quashed the decision. The board’s adoption of the unanimity rule effectively abandoned its authority to a single disagreeing physician. Because the board failed to make any factual findings with regard to the petitioner’s application, this matter was remanded to the board for reconsideration. View "Morse v. Employees Ret. Sys. of the City of Providence" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Budlong, a Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus driver, claimed that he was assaulted while on his bus route. Over a year later, Budlong identified Hall as his attacker. Budlong’s bus route went by the Halls’ Newport home about 32 times each day. Hall was ultimately acquitted. The Halls later alleged that Budlong “embarked on a pattern of harassment” and sent letters informing RIPTA of the alleged harassment. A superior court granted the Halls a temporary restraining order against Budlong and later entered mutual restraining orders. RIPTA informed the Halls that routes were assigned under a collective bargaining agreement and that this was “a private dispute,” or “a police matter.” The Halls filed suit against RIPTA, specifying incidents in which Budlong drove toward them, blocked their driveway, and engaged in other intimidating behavior. The Rhode Island Supreme Court vacated summary judgment in favor of RIPTA, stating the Halls’ letters put RIPTA on notice of the conflict and claims of harassing behavior, so that RIPTA had a duty to exercise reasonable care in conducting a full investigation, followed by appropriate action to ensure that its employee was not harassing the Halls. View "Hall v. City of Newport" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants alleging breach of fiduciary duty resulting from oppressive conduct, breach of fiduciary duty resulting from self-dealing, fraud in the inducement, and negligent misrepresentation. During trial, Plaintiff produced 155 pages of documents that had not been produced to Defendants during discovery. Defendants argued that they were denied a fair trial because the information contained in the documents would have permitted them to properly cross-examine Plaintiff. The district court dismissed the case with prejudice pursuant to Sup. Ct. R. Civ. P. 37(b) as a sanction for the mid-trial production of documents. The court subsequently denied Plaintiff’s motion to vacate the order of dismissal under Sup. Ct. R. Civ. P. 60(b). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s claim with prejudice pursuant to Rule 37; and (2) the trial justice did not abuse his discretion in denying Rule 60(b) relief. View "Joachim v. Straight Line Prods., LLC" on Justia Law