Justia Rhode Island Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
Meeks v. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this personal injury action, holding that Plaintiff failed to establish the existence of a legal duty on the part of Defendant.Plaintiff purchased fish at Defendant's supermarket and allegedly became ill after he ate the fish. Plaintiff brought this negligence action alleging that Defendant breached its alleged duty to him to "process, prepare, cook and sell food free from unreasonably dangerous defects." The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the hearing justice's ruling as regarding Defendant's duty; and (2) the hearing justice did not commit reversible error by denying Plaintiff's motion invoking Rule 56(f) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. View "Meeks v. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., LLC" on Justia Law
Pinelli v. Mercurio
The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the superior court in these three related by unconsolidated appeals, holding that Appellants were not entitled to relief on their arguments on appeal.In No. 2021-303-A and No. 2021-331-A, defendants Thomas and John Mercurio appealed pro se from a superior court granting the motion to adjudge the Mercurios in contempt filed by plaintiffs Dean and Melissa Pinelli. In No. 2021-331-A, plaintiff Elena Massarone appealed pro se from a superior court order granting the Pinellis' motion to adjudge Elena in civil contempt. On appeal, Elena and the Mercurios both asserted largely identical claims of error. The Supreme Court affirmed in all cases, holding that because none of the appellants provided transcripts to the Court from any of the hearings held throughout the proceedings and because their statements failed to provide any cogent legal analysis or substantive discussion of their claims, the appellants waived their arguments on appeal. View "Pinelli v. Mercurio" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Personal Injury
Mangiarelli v. Town of Johnston
In this slip-and-fall case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Plaintiff's motion for a new trial following a jury verdict in favor of Defendants, holding that the trial justice did not err in denying the motion.Plaintiff sued the Town of Johnson and some of its officials, alleging that Defendants were negligent in maintaining the premises of the Johnston Town Hall in a safe condition by failing to warn invitees, such as himself, of a "dangerous condition" - namely, curbing that lacked any yellow highlighting or warning. The jury returned a verdict for Defendants. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial justice denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice (1) did not err in instructing the jury as to the element of duty; (2) Defendant waived his second claim of instructional error; and (3) the trial justice did not err by concluding that expert testimony was required to establish that the angle of the curb constituted a dangerous condition. View "Mangiarelli v. Town of Johnston" on Justia Law
Devaney v. St. Thomas More Catholic Church
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants and dismissing this suit in accordance with Sup. Ct. R. Civ. P. 37, holding that dismissal was warranted in this case.Plaintiff filed this action against Defendants, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, St. Peter's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence alleging that the excessive notice emanating from Defendants' bell towers was a nuisance and seeking more than $30 million in damages. The trial justice ultimately granted Defendants' motion to dismiss based on Plaintiff's answers to interrogatories, including an interrogatory requiring him to identify any expert witness he expected to call at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's failure to provide a complete discovery response after repeated orders and admonitions by the trial court warranted dismissal. View "Devaney v. St. Thomas More Catholic Church" on Justia Law
Borgo v. Narragansett Electric Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court ruling that Defendant did not owe a duty of care to eighteen-year-old Plaintiff at the time of an accident in a utility substation, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff was a trespasser at the substation when an accident occurred, resulting in the amputation of her left hand and a two-month hospital stay. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, the property owner, owed a duty of care to maintain its substation in a reasonably safe condition and that, as a direct and proximate result of Defendant's negligence, Plaintiff was injured. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no duty flowing to Plaintiff from Defendant ever arose under the circumstances of this case. View "Borgo v. Narragansett Electric Co." on Justia Law
Ho-Rath v. Corning Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the superior court entered in favor of Defendants in two consolidated medical malpractice cases, holding that the hearing justice did not err in finding that Defendants owed no duty to Plaintiffs.The plaintiffs in the first case were the parents of Yendee, who was ultimately confirmed to possess Hemoglobin Constant Spring trait and two gene deletion alpha thalassemia trait. Plaintiffs filed suit individually and on behalf of Yendee, alleging that Defendants were negligent in failing to properly diagnose, test, treat, and care for Plaintiffs. After the case was returned to the superior court Yendee, having reached the age of majority, filed an individual complaint against various defendants. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendants in both cases. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there is no duty owed to a child born with physical defects who alleges that, because of negligence, his parents either decided to conceive him in ignorance of the risk of impairment or were deprived of information that would have caused them to terminate the pregnancy. View "Ho-Rath v. Corning Inc." on Justia Law
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
Phillips v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. of Rhode Island
The Supreme Court quashed the decree of the appellate division of the workers' compensation court denying and dismissing Petitioner's petition for surviving-spouse compensation benefits and funeral expenses, holding that the going-and-coming rule did not preclude Petitioner's recovery.At issue was whether the exception to the going-and-coming rule as it was articulated in Branco v. Leviton Manufacturing Company, Inc., 518 A.2d 621 (R.I. 1986) precluded recovery of workers' compensation dependency benefits for the fatal injuries Petitioner's husband sustained while traveling from his employer's facility to a separate parking lot that was leased but not owned by the employer. The trial judge found that Petitioner's claim was not barred by the going-and-coming rule because the Branco exception applied. The appellate division vacated the decision below, finding that the going-and-coming rule barred Petitioner's claim. The Supreme Court quashed the decree below, holding that the Branco exception was applicable to the instant case. View "Phillips v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. of Rhode Island" on Justia Law
Posted in: Labor & Employment Law, Personal Injury
Battaglia v. Lombardi
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court in favor of the Treasurer for the City of Providence (the City) and dismissing Plaintiff's personal injury claim, holding that the trial justice erred in entering judgment in favor of the City.Plaintiff fell into a manhole that was covered with a loose pallet. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and awarded him $87,500 in damages. The City filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law, arguing that the City was immune from liability pursuant to the public duty doctrine. The trial justice granted the motion for judgment as a matter of law. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding that the trial justice erred in determining that the egregious conduct exception to the public duty doctrine did not apply because the judge usurped the jury's fact-finding function. View "Battaglia v. Lombardi" on Justia Law
Rosa v. PJC of Rhode Island, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Belltower Acquisitions, LLC, in this personal injury case, holding that the superior court did not err when it granted summary judgment to Defendant.Plaintiff claimed that she fell on a sidewalk adjacent to a Rite Aid Pharmacy in a commercial condominium complex. Rite Aid leased the store from Belltower Acquisitions. Plaintiff sued both Rite Aid, doing business as PJC of Rhode Island, and Belltower Acquisitions but did not name the Belltower Condominium Plaza Association in her lawsuit. The hearing justice granted summary judgment to Belltower Acquisitions based on Plaintiff's failure to comply with R.I. Gen. Laws 34-36.1-3.01. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not err when it concluded that the certificate requirement in section 34-36.1-3.01 is directory and granting summary judgment to Belltower Acquisitions. View "Rosa v. PJC of Rhode Island, Inc." on Justia Law