Justia Rhode Island Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Plaintiff's claim for specific performance of a purchase and sale agreement (PSA) in favor of Defendants - Irene M. O'Malley Revocable Trust and John Brady, Katherine Brady Walker, and Mary Brad, as trustees of the Irene M. O'Malley Revocable Trust (collectively, the Trust) - holding that there was no error.Plaintiff filed an amended complaint seeking specific performance of the PSA and alleging that the Trust breached the PSA and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. After a bench trial, the trial justice denied Plaintiff's request for specific performance and granted the Trust's request to terminate the PSA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the trial justice misapplied the law, misconceived or overlooked material evidence or made factual findings that were clearly wrong. View "Terrapin Development, LLC v. Irene M. O'Malley Revocable Trust" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court granting the request of Petitioners to appoint a temporary receiver for Respondent, Bard Group, LLC, holding that Petitioners lacked standing to seek the appointment of a receiver, either under statute or as a matter of equity.Respondent owned nine of thirteen condominium units at a certain condominium in Newport, and Petitioners owned the remaining four units. Respondent had a controlling voting share in the condominium association. When the condominium roof began to leak and repairs were not timely made Petitioners filed a petition for the appointment of a receiver for the association. Thereafter, Respondent's mortgage was foreclosed upon. Petitioners then filed a second motion and petition to appoint a receiver in this case, only this time they sought to appoint a receiver for Respondent and not the association. The hearing justice found that Petitioners had standing to pursue the receivership and appointed a temporary receiver for Respondent. The Supreme Court vacated the order, holding that Petitioners lacked standing to seek the appointment of a receiver, and the hearing justice erred in appointing one. View "Epic Enterprises LLC v. 10 Brown & Howard Wharf Condominium Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment to Defendant, Narragansett Bay Insurance Company (NBIC), in this dispute as to whether Plaintiffs, pursuant to their homeowners insurance policy with NBIC, were entitled to receive a subsequent appraisal of the damage to their property as well as additional compensation for damage incurred, holding that the superior court did not err.Plaintiffs' home, which was insured by NBIC, received water damage stemming from the accumulation of snow on their roof. Plaintiffs submitted a claim to NBIC and received, in return, a check for $14,550. After depositing the check, Plaintiffs later filed a complaint alleging that NBIC had failed to abide by the terms of the homeowners insurance policy and seeking damages for the water damage. The superior court entered summary judgment in favor of NBIC. At issue on appeal was wether Plaintiffs, pursuant to their policy, were entitled to receive a subsequent appraisal of the property damage, along with additional compensation for damage incurred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' delay in requesting an appraisal was unreasonable, thereby relieving NBIC of its responsibilities under the insurance policy. View "Machado v. Narragansett Bay Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Plaintiffs - Middle Creek Farm, LLC; Middlecreek, LLC; and Douglas and Catherine Politi - holding that the hearing justice did not err in partially granting Middle Creek Farm's motion for summary judgment in its declaratory judgment action.Middle Creek Farm brought this action seeking a declaration that Portsmouth Water & Fire District (PWFD) was required to provide water services to subdivision lots. The hearing justice decided that three sub-lots were entitled to water from PWFD and granted summary judgment as to those lots. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court did not err in deciding that the sub-lots were within the district's coverage for distributing water; and (2) the hearing justice did not err when he denied PWFD's motion to dismiss for failure to join indispensable parties. View "Middle Creek Farm, LLC v. Portsmouth Water & Fire District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the partial judgment of the order of the superior court granting injunctive relief in favor of Plaintiff, Read's Landscape Construction, Inc., holding that the trial justice did not err.Plaintiff entered into a purchase and sale agreement to buy a one-acre parcel of property from Defendant, 4N Properties, LLC. Plaintiff later filed a complaint alleging that, during the transaction, Defendant committed fraud in the inducement and misrepresentation by altering a right of way and eliminating Plaintiff's ability to use the right of way. The trial justice granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. Plaintiff then moved for injunctive relief. The trial justice found that Plaintiff met the standard for mandatory permanent injunctive relief and ordered Defendant to remove any impediments located on or adjacent to the right of way. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff acquired an easement appurtenant over the right of way; and (2) the trial justice correctly issued a mandatory permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiff. View "Read's Landscape Construction, Inc. v. Town of West Warwick" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the superior court foreclosing Defendants' rights of redemption in property purchased at a tax sale by Plaintiff, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. As the result of nonpayment of taxes or fees, the City of East Providence sold Defendants' property to Plaintiff at a tax sale. Plaintiff subsequently filed a petition to foreclose Defendants' right of redemption. In their answer, Defendants argued that the tax sale was improper because the mortgagee was not given notice of the outstanding water bill that had triggered the tax sale. The hearing justice entered a final decree foreclosing all rights of redemption and vesting legal and equitable title to the property in Decathlon. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither of Defendants' arguments on appeal satisfied the requirements for application of the constitutional exception to the raise-or-waive rule. View "Decathlon Investments v. Medeiros" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants - RISE Prep Mayoral Academy and the City of Woonsocket building inspector and zoning official - and dismissing the City's request for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and judicial aid in enforcement, holding that the superior court did not err.The City filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that RISE's operation in a C-2, major commercial district, violated the City's zoning ordinance. The City also sought injunctive relief requesting judicial aid in enforcement of the City's zoning ordinance. The trial justice entered judgment for Defendants, concluding that the operation of RISE in a C-2 zoning district was permitted as a municipal use. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because RISE was a public school, its operation was a municipal use permitted in a C-2 zone under the City's zoning ordinance. View "City of Woonsocket v. RISE Prep Mayoral Academy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of the Estate of Everett Joseph Hopkins in the Estate's action to declare a warranty deed null and void for failure of delivery, holding that the trial justice did not err or abuse her discretion.The trial justice determined that the warranty deed was void for failure of delivery because Everett did not intend to surrender control of and completely divest himself of title to the property. The trial justice further found that the deed was not accepted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice properly determined that the executed warranty deed was void for failure of delivery and acceptance. View "Estate of Everett Joseph Hopkins v. Hopkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of Charlestown Zoning Board of Review denying a special-use permit and a dimensional variance, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support the denial of the special-use permit.New Castle Realty Company applied to the zoning board for a special-use permit and a dimensional variance to build a house and install a septic system on a preexisting nonconforming lot. The zoning board denied both requests. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the superior court's judgment, holding (1) substantial evidence did not exist in the record to support either the zoning board's decision to deny the special-use permit or the trial justice's ruling affirming the denial of the special-use permit; and (2) the trial justice correctly concluded that certain testimony was fatal to New Castle's request for a dimensional variance. View "New Castle Realty Co. v. Dreczko" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court confirming the judicial foreclosure of Defendant's home in favor of Plaintiff, Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, holding that the superior court did not err.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial justice erred by confirming the foreclosure sale because she had not been provided a copy of a notice of foreclosure counseling at least forty-five days prior to receiving the certified letter and that Plaintiff foreclosed the property without holding the note or the mortgage. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in confirming the judicial foreclosure sale; and (2) because Plaintiff had been assigned the mortgage prior to the foreclosure sale it did not need to hold the note in order to foreclose on the property. View "Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC v. Medina" on Justia Law