Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiff’s negligence claim. Plaintiff, a former college hockey player, filed this negligence suit alleging that he inhaled noxious fumes while playing in a game at an arena owned by Defendant DRF Arena, LLC and operated by Defendant Rhode Island Sports Center, Inc. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court’s judgment and remanded the case for trial, holding that Defendants’ alleged negligence was a question that should have been left for the jury, and therefore, the superior court erred by disposing of the case by summary judgment. View "DeLong v. Rhode Island Sports Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court and remanded this case to the superior court with directions to hear and decide Plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint upon the merits, holding that the trial justice erred in failing to address Plaintiff’s motion to file a second amended complaint. Plaintiff, an inmate, filed an amended civil complaint alleging negligence on the part of State defendants. Before trial, the trial justice sua sponte raised the issue of the civil death statute in light of Plaintiff’s sentences of life imprisonment. Defendants then filed a motion to dismiss the case under R.I. Gen. Laws 13-6-1, arguing that Plaintiff was deemed civilly dead, and therefore, his civil rights were effectively terminated. Plaintiff then filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint seeking to add a claim for violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights under color of law. The trial justice granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss based on the civil death statute and did not address Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. The Supreme Court held that the trial justice accurately dismissed the case but should have addressed Plaintiff’s second amended complaint before granting Defendants’ motion to dismiss. View "Gallop v. Adult Correctional Institutions" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the City of Providence, on Plaintiff’s amended complaint alleging that she fell and sustained injuries due to the City’s negligence in maintaining its sidewalk, holding that Plaintiff failed to provide notice of the location of her injury in a “reasonably sufficient manner.” In dismissing the complaint, the superior court concluded that Plaintiff’s notice of claim failed to describe with sufficient specificity of location where the incident giving rise to the claim occurred was defective as a matter of law. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that because Plaintiff’s notice was geographically inaccurate, it was inadequate, and Plaintiff’s attempt to cure the defective notice was invalid because it was filed outside the sixty-day limitations period for filing a notice of claim under R.I. Gen. Laws 45-15-9. View "Ahearn v. City of Providence" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court determining that Plaintiff need not comply with R.I. Gen. Laws 45-21-23 and 45-21-24 in order to continue receiving his accidental disability pension because those sections were not applicable to his situation. Plaintiff suffered a debilitating injury while performing his duties as a police officer and was granted an accidental disability pension. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiff was subject to sections 45-21-23 and 45-21-24; and (2) Plaintiff may be required to undergo an independent medical examination on occasion at the direction of the Retirement Board and to submit such financial information as may be requested in accordance with section 45-21-24. View "Grasso v. Raimondo" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether victims of illegal entries to owed a duty to unknown plaintiffs. Plaintiffs sued Defendant, Nickerson Community Center, alleging that Defendant was negligent in failing to secure the keys to a van that was stolen by a juvenile from Defendant’s premises. The van, driven by the juvenile, later collided with another car, causing one fatality. The hearing justice found that defendant did not owe a duty to Plaintiffs and granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no duty of care owed by Defendant in this case, and therefore, Plaintiffs’ negligence claims against Defendant must fail as a matter of law. View "Flynn v. Nickerson Community Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the superior court denying Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial following a jury verdict in favor of Defendants in this negligence case arising out of an automobile accident. In his motion for a new trial, Plaintiff argued that the jury failed to apply the facts to the law in the case at hand. The trial justice denied the motion, determining that reasonable minds could differ on the outcome of the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice properly conducted the analysis for a motion for a new trial and did not overlook or misconceive material evidence. View "Zarembka v. Whelan" on Justia Law

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R.I. Gen. Laws 10-6-2 means that the release of the master from liability also releases the servant. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this negligence case filed against two nurses. Plaintiff’s complaint was nearly identical to the one she had brought against Tavares Pediatric Center and later settled. In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants argued that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by R.I. Gen. Laws 10-6-2, which provides “that a master and servant or principal and agent shall be considered a single tortfeasor.” Specifically, Defendants maintained that because they and Tavares stood in a master-servant relationship, they should be considered a single tortfeasor and thus released from liability pursuant to Plaintiff’s release of Tavares from liability. The trial justice agreed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 10-6-2 foreclosed Plaintiff’s claims in this case. View "Hall v. Hornby" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs claimed that the sale of property without their consent to an entity of which Defendants were principals, was fraudulent. Plaintiffs also named as a defendant the title insurance and escrow agent in connection with the sale of the property. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in part and vacated it in part, holding (1) the hearing justice erred in determining that there was no factual issue regarding damages, and summary judgment is vacated as to the individual defendants to the extent that Plaintiffs may show damages for lost profits sustained in their individual capacities only; (2) the superior court properly granted summary judgment for the individual defendants as to Plaintiffs’ tortious interference with a contractual relationship claims, intentional interference with prospective contractual relations claims, breach of contract claims, fraud claims, and civil conspiracy claims; and (3) the judgment is affirmed in favor of the title company in all respects. View "Fogarty v. Palumbo" on Justia Law

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Adam Correia was seriously injured after he and Edward Alexander went target shooting and Alexander accidentally shot Correia in the abdomen. Correia brought five claims against John and Theresa Bettencourt, the owners of the property where the accidental shooting occurred. At issue was whether John Bettencourt had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect Correia from the negligence of a third party, Alexander. The superior court granted summary judgment to the Bettencourts on all counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no material facts were at issue in this case and that the facts presented did not give rise to the imposition of a duty upon Bettencourt. View "Correia v. Bettencourt" on Justia Law

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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