Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Retirement Board of the Employee Retirement System of Providence (the Board) denying Petitioner's application for accidental disability retirement benefits and instead awarding her ordinary disability benefits, holding that there was legally competent evidence supporting the Board's decision to deny Petitioner accidental disability retirement benefits. Petitioner, who served as a bus monitor for the City of Providence, submitted an application for accidental-disability retirement benefits to Respondent, the Employees' Retirement System of Providence, alleging that she had suffered a work-related injury. The Board denied Petitioner's application and instead granted Petitioner ordinary disability benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board based its decision on legally competent evidence that Petitioner's employment was not the natural and proximate cause of her disability. View "Trinidad v. Employees' Retirement System of Providence" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this negligence action, holding that summary judgment was appropriately granted in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's negligence claim. Plaintiff and Defendant were fellow employees. Defendant injured Plaintiff when he ignited gasoline in a bathroom Plaintiff was occupying and the gasoline burst into flames. Plaintiff filed a negligence complaint against Defendant. The superior court granted summary judgment for Defendant based on the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act, R.I. Gen. Laws 28-29-20. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) R.I. Gen. Laws 28-35-58 did not enable Plaintiff to maintain a suit against Defendant even though Plaintiff accepted and received workers' compensation benefits from his employer; and (2) absent disputed issues of material fact in this case, summary judgment was properly granted in favor of Defendant. View "Mello v. Killeavy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, NAMCO, LLC, the company that sold the swimming pool in which a four-year-old child drowned to the child's grandmother, holding that there existed issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed negligence claims alleging that Defendants negligently installed or allowed the safety ladder and pool to be installed without proper permitting and in violation of applicable ordinances, building codes and health regulations. NAMCO filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that because NAMCO did not install the pool or ladder and because the entity that did the installation was not its agent, NAMCO had no duty to Plaintiffs regarding the installation of the pool. Further, NAMCO argued that Plaintiffs could not prove that its actions were the proximate cause of the child's death. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for NAMCO. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a factual issue remained in dispute as to whether the installer acted as NAMCO's agent; and (2) the issue of whether NAMCO had a duty to vet the installers it recommended could not be resolved on summary judgment. View "Oliver v. Narragansett Bay Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the appellate division of the Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) dismissing Petitioner's appeal from the decision of the trial judge finding that work-sharing benefits were properly not included in Petitioner's average weekly wage for workers' compensation benefits, holding that work-sharing benefits received pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 28-44-69 may not be taken into account when determining the average weekly wage to be used in calculating workers' compensation benefits pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 28-33-20. Petitioner was injured during the course of his employment and was unable to work for two months. At the time of the injury, Petitioner received work-sharing benefits from the state under an approved work-sharing program pursuant to section 28-44-69, in addition to receiving remuneration. Petitioner applied for workers' compensation benefits, but Petitioner's "average weekly wage" calculation did not take into account the work-sharing benefits Petitioner had been receiving. Petitioner filed a "claim for a trial" to challenge the calculation of his average weekly wage. The trial judge concluded that Petitioner's work-sharing benefits were properly not included in his average weekly wage. The appellate division of the WCC affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that work-sharing benefits are not included as part of the term "wages" in section 28-33-20. View "Powers v. Warwick Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the hearing justice that Plaintiff, Christy's Auto Rentals, Inc., lacked standing to bring this declaratory judgment action against Christian Lanoie and his insurer, Massachusetts Homeland Insurance Company (Homeland), holding that the hearing justice correctly ruled that Homeland did not waive the standing defense and that Christy's lacked standing to pursue this declaratory judgment action. In this action against Homeland, Christy's sought a ruling that the damages Lanoie caused to its rental vehicle and a trailer owned by a third party were covered under Lanoie's policy with Homeland. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Homeland because Christy's had not secured a judgment against Lanoie. The hearing justice went on to opine that Lanoie's insurance policy with Homeland did not provide coverage for the collision giving rise to the underlying dispute and that such coverage was not statutorily mandated. The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling with respect to Christy's lack of standing, holding that Christy's asserted injury was conjectural and hypothetical unless and until there was and unsatisfied final judgment in Christy's tort action against Lanoie. View "Christy's Auto Rentals, Inc. v. Massachusetts Homeland Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Plaintiffs' motion for a new trial after a jury found in favor of Defendants in this negligence action, holding that the motion was properly denied. Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging negligence against Defendants seeking damages for injuries Plaintiff sustained when she slipped on some ice on pavement on Defendants' property. Plaintiffs also sought punitive damages, alleging that Defendants' conduct was reckless and willful. The punitive damages claim was dismissed after Plaintiffs rested their case. After deliberating, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiffs moved for a new trial, arguing that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence and failed to do substantial justice between the parties. The trial justice denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not overlook or misconceive material and relevant evidence and was not otherwise clearly wrong in denying Plaintiffs' motion for a new trial. View "Letizio v. Ritacco" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury suit seeking damages for injures alleged to be caused by defects in a public park, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of East Providence, holding that the City was immune from liability under the Recreational Use Statute, R.I. Gen. Laws chapter 6 of title 32 (RUS). Plaintiff was injured while riding his bicycle through Glenlon Park, located in East Providence. Plaintiff brought this action claiming that Defendant was negligent in maintaining the park. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the City was immune from liability under the RUS because the park was open to the public for recreational purposes and the City did not act in a willful or malicious manner in failing to guard or warn against a known danger. The superior court granted summary judgment for the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City was immune from liability under the RUS; (2) the spoliation doctrine did not apply to the circumstances presented in this case; and (3) the superior court did not err in refusing to apply the exception to the RUS, R.I. Gen. Laws 32-6-5(a)(1), to Plaintiff's claim. View "Yattaw v. City of East Providence" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the entry of summary judgment in favor of Dr. Shea Gregg in this wrongful death action, holding that the superior court correctly found that the statutory period for filing a wrongful death action had expired. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint against a hospital and physicians, including Dr. Gregg, that had been involved in the decedent’s care, alleging negligent treatment leading to the wrongful death of the decedent. Dr. Gregg filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that the statute of limitations for wrongful death had expired before he had been added as a defendant. The superior court agreed and granted the motion. Thereafter, judgment was entered in favor of Dr. Gregg. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s wrongful death claim against Dr. Gregg was time barred. View "Parrillo v. Rhode Island Hospital" on Justia Law

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In this action involving various allegations against the former mayor of the City of Central Falls, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the complex nature of the case did not preclude the hearing justice from considering the Trust’s summary judgment motions; (2) res judicata did not bar new claims made by two plaintiffs, but those claims were barred by the pertinent statute of limitations; and (3) regarding old claims brought by the same two plaintiffs, the hearing justice did not err in granting summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, public disclosure of private facts and false light, and defamation. View "Shannahan v. Moreau" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendants, the City of Providence and various City officials, on Plaintiff’s complaint alleging, among other things, that Ira Lukens suffered serious injuries as a result of the City’s negligence in maintaining Roger Williams Park. On appeal, Plaintiff asserted that there remained genuine issues of material fact whether the City knew of the dangerous condition of a pothole on a park street and whether it “willfully and/or maliciously failed to warn against it,” which would strip the City of the protection against liability afforded under Rhode Islan d’s Recreational Use Statute (RUS). The Supreme Court held (1) immunity under the RUS clearly applied to the City; and (2) the exception provided in R.I. Gen. Stat. 32-6-5(a)(1) did not apply because there was no evidence that the City had actual knowledge of the pothole or had received complaints regarding the condition of the roadway. View "Cancel v. City of Providence" on Justia Law