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Plaintiff, who was injured while rendering roadside aid as a Good Samaritan, was “occupying” the insured vehicle for purposes of underinsured motorist (UM) coverage and was therefore entitled to recover under the terms of a GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. policy. Plaintiff was a passenger in a Saab driven by Gregory Hurst when the two witnessed an automobile collision. Plaintiff exited the Saab and was attempting to render assistance when she was struck by another car. Plaintiff settled a claim against the driver of the vehicle that hit her but claimed that she was not fully compensated for her injuries. Consequently, Plaintiff filed a claim with GEICO (Defendant) seeking relief through Hurst’s GEICO policy that insured the Saab. Defendant denied the claim on the ground that Plaintiff was not “occupying” the insured vehicle at the time of her injuries. Plaintiff then filed this action. The trial justice agreed with Defendant, concluding that Plaintiff could not recover UM benefits under the terms of the GEICO policy. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that Plaintiff was entitled to recover under the terms of the policy. View "Hudson v. GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc." on Justia Law

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The doctrine of collateral estoppel did not bar the state from prosecuting a chemical breath test refusal under R.I. Gen. Laws 31-37-2.1. Defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of marijuana and a chemical refusal. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the superior court for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether Defendant’s motion to dismiss on grounds of collateral estoppel was timely. The superior court found that Defendant’s motion was untimely filed but that there was good cause for the delay. Before the Supreme Court, Defendant argued that the state was collaterally estopped from prosecuting the chemical refusal because the facts at issue were decided in the Traffic Tribunal. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction, holding that collateral estoppel did not apply under the circumstances of this case. View "State v. Pacheco" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff slipped on a patch of black ice in the paved parking area adjacent to his apartment building, which was owned by Defendant. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant, alleging that Defendant negligently maintained the premises and that Defendant’s negligence was the direct and proximate cause of Plaintiff’s shoulder injury. At the close of Plaintiff’s case, Defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law. Before sending the case to the jury, the trial justice granted Defendant’s motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that the trial justice erred because there was enough evidence to send the case to the jury. View "Aubin v. MAG Realty, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Defendant was convicted of constructive possession of a firearm after a conviction for a crime of violence. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in refusing to suppress Defendant’s post-arrest statement to the police with respect to the gun at issue in this case; (2) Defendant waived the issue of whether the trial judge erred in declining to submit to the jury the issue of the voluntariness of Defendant’s alleged statement with respect to the gun at issue; and (3) the trial justice did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal and motion for a new trial. View "State v. Yon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The trial court did not err in declining to suppress the statements Defendant had given tot he police. Defendant was convicted on two counts of first-degree sexual assault. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twenty-five years on both counts, to run concurrently. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress the statements that he had given to the police, arguing that the State failed to meet its burden of demonstrating, by clear and convincing evidence, that he knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the hearing justice’s finding that Defendant’s statements were not invited by the police but were voluntary statements was correct; (2) Defendant’s post-Miranda statements were admissible because the detectives did not engage in the “question first” interrogation technique found unconstitutional in Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600 (2004); and (3) there was no evidence that Defendant failed to comprehend the nature of his rights or the consequences of abandoning them when he made statements while in custody at the police station. View "State v. Sabourin" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged via a criminal information with breaking and entering a dwelling. After a trial, the trial justice granted Defendant’s motion to pass the case based on based on a comment made by the prosecutor during closing argument. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information on grounds of double jeopardy. The trial justice denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the State’s actions were not intended to goad Defendant into seeking a mistrial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err in determining that the prosecutor did not intentionally goad Defendant into moving for a mistrial. View "State v. Corleto" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded nolo contendere to assault in a dwelling house with intent to murder while armed with a dangerous weapon and carrying a pistol on or about his person without a license. While Defendant was on parole, he was arrested and charged with domestic assault and failure to relinquish a telephone. Also while on parole Defendant was charged with breaking and entering. After a hearing, Defendant admitted that he violated the terms and conditions of his probation. Defendant later filed an application for postconviction relief alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at the probation violation hearing and that he did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily admit a violation of probation. A hearing justice denied Defendant’s application for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any alleged deficient performance by Defendant’s attorney was not so prejudicial as to deprive Defendant to a fair trial; and (2) Defendant’s admission was made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. View "Gomes v. State" on Justia Law

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The raise-or-waive rule barred consideration of the argument brought before the Supreme Court on appeal in this breach of a promissory note case. In a prior appeal in this case, the Supreme Court affirmed a judgment of the superior court in favor of the Judgment Creditor against the Judgment Debtors in the amount of nearly $4 million plus post-judgment interest on claims for breach of a promissory note and breach of a guaranty of that note. In this second appeal, one of the judgment debtors (Judgment Debtor) appealed from an order of the superior court directing that Judgment Creditor be substituted for Judgment Debtor as the party to litigate Judgment Debtor’s claims in receivership proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the issue raised on appeal was not properly before the court due to the raise-or-waive rule. View "Tri-Town Construction Co. v. Commerce Park Associates 12, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from litigation beginning in 2000 between feuding neighbors who disputed several issues, including the details of an easement that resulted from a court-mandated land petition. In 2005, the Ballards filed an answer to SVF Foundation’s fifth amended complaint and also counterclaimed, alleging, inter alia, that SVF Foundation was interfering with the Ballards’ easement that ran across SVF’s property. The superior court granted summary judgment to SVF. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that the hearing justice erred when he applied law-of-the-case in his ruling on SVF’s motion for summary judgment. View "Hamilton v. Ballard" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of six counts of first-degree sexual assault and three counts of second-degree sexual assault. The Supreme Court vacated count five of the judgment of conviction and affirmed the judgment of the superior court in all other respects, holding (1) the trial court did not err in declining to preclude certain testimony at trial under R.I. R. Evid. 404(b); and (2) although Defendant waived his appellate argument in this regard, the trial justice erred in denying Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal on count five of the indictment, and therefore, in the interest of justice and judicial economy, the judgment of conviction on count five is vacated. View "State v. Perez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law