Justia Rhode Island Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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In these two consolidated cases, the Supreme Court vacated the final judgment granting Respondent the right to redeem its real property in a tax-sale action and from an order granting Respondent's motion to adjudge Petitioner in contempt, holding that there was no offer to redeem to satisfy the strict statutory requirements of R.I. Gen. Laws 44-9-29.After the property at issue, which was owned by Respondent, was sold at a tax sale by the City of Providence Petitioner filed a petition to foreclose on Respondent's right of redemption. Respondent answered by contesting the validity of the tax sale. Respondent then filed a motion to set a redemption figure. The hearing justice set the redemption amount at $65,000. Petitioner failed to deliver the redemption deed, after which Respondent moved to adjudge Petitioner in contempt. The superior court adjudged Petitioner in contempt and granted a motion to stay the order setting a redemption figure. The Supreme Court vacated the final judgment granting Respondent's right of redemption and the order of contempt, holding that, having failed to set forth in its answer an offer to redeem before the fixed return date, Respondent's right to redeem was barred. View "Westconnaug Recovery Co. v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendant, in her capacity as the Town of Lincoln's tax assessor, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on its claims of error.Plaintiff brought this action arguing that Defendant (1) illegally increased the value of Plaintiff's property in light of a solar energy development on a portion of Plaintiff's property for tax years 2019 and 2020, and (2) improperly created a new tax classification not recognized by R.I. Gen. Laws 44-5-11.8(b). The superior court granted judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in including the presence of a solar energy development as an element of value assessed to real property; and (2) Plaintiff's claim that the tax assessor effectively created a new tax classification for property upon which a solar energy development is located, in contravention of R.I. Gen. Laws 44-5-11.8(b), was unpersuasive. View "Polseno Properties Management, LLC v. Keeble" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court following the grant of Flagstar Bank, FSB's motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissing this action filed by Plaintiffs for wrongful acceleration, foreclosure, and sale of certain property, holding that the trial justice erred in part.In deciding Flagstar's motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court was required to resolve any doubts in favor of the complaining party. However, a disputed issue of material fact existed. The Supreme Court remanded the case in part, holding (1) the trial justice's failure to to resolve the disputed issue of material fact in favor of Plaintiffs, as the complaining party, was erroneous; and (2) the trial justice did not err in concluding that Flagstar complied with 24 C.F.R. 203.604. View "Montaquila v. Flagstar Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this foreclosure action, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Plaintiff executed a promissory note and mortgage secured by certain Pawtucket property. After Plaintiff defaulted on the loan, Defendants initiated the foreclosure process and sent Plaintiff the notice of sale. Plaintiff brought this complaint seeking to enjoin Defendants from proceeding with the foreclosure sale. The superior court denied Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and held a foreclosure sale. Thereafter, the trial judge granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to all of Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) were was no genuine issue of material precluding summary judgment; (2) the hearing justice did not err in finding that neither the default notice nor the amount of listed arrearage violated the mortgage or prejudiced Plaintiff; (3) the hearing justice properly disposed of Plaintiff's motions to strike; and (4) the hearing justice did not err in denying Plaintiff's motion to amend his original complaint. View "Degasparre v. Fay Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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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

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In this real property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court for Defendants following the court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that the trial justice did not err in ruling that the disputed land was a paper street and in finding that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.Plaintiff filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that certain property was a public road that ran to the boundary of Plaintiff's property and that Plaintiff had the right to use the full length of the property and the right of access to his property. The superior court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. View "Davis v. Town of Exeter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision and judgment of the superior court affirming the decisions of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) denying the application of Champlin's Realty Associates to expand its marina on the Great Salt Pond in the Town of New Shoreham, holding that there was no error.The trial justice found there was sufficient evidence to support the CRMC's denial of Champlin's application to expand its marina and held that the CRMC had acted within its authority in denying the application. Champlin's and the CRMC later filed a motion seeking to incorporate and merge a joint memorandum of understanding (the MOU) purporting to serve as the CRMC's decision relative to this matter into a consent order of the Court. Certain entities (intervenors) and the attorney general contested the propriety of the purported settlement and the validity of the MOU. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed and denied the request by Champlin's and the CRMC to incorporate and merge the MOU into a consent order of the Supreme Court, holding that the remand justice erred in determining that the CRMC and Champlin's had authority to meditate. View "Champlin's Realty Associates v. Coastal Resources Management Council" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court in favor of Plaintiffs, Johnston Equities Associates, LP and Stay Away From the Cans, LLC on their trespass claim against Defendants, the Town of Johnston and its officials, for allowing sewage from the Town's sewer pipelines to be discharged into JEA's private sewer pipeline, holding that the trial justice erred in part.The jury awarded Plaintiffs $1.2 million in their favor, but the trial justice ruled that the statutory cap of $100,000 under R.I. Gen. Laws 9-31-3 was applicable because Plaintiffs' claim constituted a governmental function. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial justice (1) properly denied the Town's motions for judgment as a matter of law; (2) did not err in not applying the public duty doctrine; but (3) erred in applying the statutory cap on damages and in denying prejudgment interest. View "Johnston Equities Associates, LP v. Town of Johnston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting declaratory and injunctive relief in favor of Plaintiffs and denying declaratory and injunctive relief requested in a counterclaim filed by Defendants, holding that Defendants were not entitled to relief on their claims of error.On appeal, Defendants challenged the trial justice's ruling that a two-member condominium board consisting of the owners of the condominium's two units were not inconsistent with the R.I. Condominium Act, holding them in contempt, and awarding Plaintiffs attorneys' fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court correctly denied Defendants' counterclaims; (2) the trial justice did not abuse its discretion in findings Defendants in civil contempt of a temporary restraining order; and (3) there was no abuse of discretion with respect to the trial justice's award of attorneys' fees. View "Anton v. Houze" on Justia Law