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 dismissing Plaintiff's amended complaint in which she sought a writ of mandamus ordering the Town of Smithfield to remove several trees and plants that were planted on the Town's property by neighboring landowners, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff filed this complaint seeking an order directing the Town to remove all of the trees and plants that a Town resident had planted on the Town's property and without the Town's approval. The superior court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the Town did not have a ministerial duty to remove the trees and plants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that mandamus did not lie in this case. View "Nerney v. Town of Smithfield" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Movants' motions to intervene in an action commenced by Verizon New England Inc. by way of appeal from a decision of the Tax Administrator for the State of Rhode Island, holding that the trial judge did not err.This appeal arose from Verizon's challenge to a final decision of the tax administrator that upheld an assessment of Verizon's tangible personal property (TPP) tax and denied Verizon's request for a lower assessment and a partial refund. Verizon appealed to the district court. The City of Pawtucket and the City of Cranston (collectively, Movants) moved to intervene as of right, claiming an interest in the TPP tax. The district court denied the motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial judge did not err or abuse his discretion in concluding that Movants failed to demonstrate that their interests were not adequately represented. View "Verizon New England Inc. v. Savage" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs in their appeal from the order of the state tax administrator denying a refund with respect to a conveyance tax paid pursuant to a memorandum of agreement, holding that Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment as a matter of law.In this dispute surrounding the conveyance tax Plaintiffs paid to expediently transfer a mall and an associate parking garage, the district court concluded that the transfer of interest in a lease entered into by Plaintiffs was not subject to the conveyance tax under R.I. Gen. Laws 44-25-1(a) because of a tax exemption granted through action by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. The district court granted final judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for Plaintiffs. View "Providence Place Group Limited, Partnership v. State ex rel. Division of Taxation" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court reversed two judgments of the superior court entered in favor of Petitioners, a group of taxpayers who challenged the City of Providence's tax assessments on their properties for tax years 2014 and 2015, holding that the trial justice erred.The trial justice ruled that a revaluation conducted in 2013 of property values was illegal and invalid and that the tax bills for the relevant tax years shall be revised based on the 2012 revaluation. The superior court entered judgment in favor of Petitioners in excess of $1.5 million. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial justice improperly weighed the evidence and erred as a matter of law in finding that the 2013 revaluation was illegal, invalid, selective, arbitrary, and discriminatory. View "Athena Providence Place v. Pare" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the final decree of the superior court foreclosing Respondent's right of reception for property sold at a tax sale, holding that there was no error.Petitioner purchased the property at issue in this case at a tax sale. More than one year after the tax sale and the recording of the deed, Petitioner filed a petition seeking to foreclose Respondent's right of redemption. The superior court held a hearing on the petition and determined that Respondent was in default and that Petitioner was entitled to its requested relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent waived all of the arguments that he raised on appeal. View "E.T. Investments, LLC v. Riley" on Justia 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