Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Gonsalves-Pastore Realty, LLC and dismissing Mauro Poletti's negligence complaint, holding that summary judgment was properly granted.Poletti entered into an agreement with Linda Glynn, a licensed real estate agent, to assist him in the purchase of real estate for investment purposes. Later, Glynn granted two mortgages on property purchased in furtherance of Poletti's investment plan and used the resulting funds in contravention of that plan. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Gonsalves-Pastore, as Glynn's employer or principal, breached its fiduciary duty to Poletti to oversee Glynn such that Glynn was acting in the best interests of Poletti and that no loss would ever occur to Poletti. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Gonsalves-Pastore. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in (1) determining that no genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether or not a fiduciary relationship existed between Poletti and Gonsalves-Pastore; and (2) concluding that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether or not Defendant was liable for Glynn's alleged acts of malfeasance. View "Poletti v. Glynn" on Justia Law

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In this negligence case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court for Defendants on all counts in Plaintiffs' complaint, holding that Plaintiffs' claims were filed after the three-year statute of limitations had run and were not tolled by the discovery rule, the holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the exoneration rule, R.I. Gen. Law 9-1-20, or the doctrine of equitable tolling.Polanco was convicted of assaulting a bar patron with a pool cue. The responding police officer, Michael Camardo, filed no report. After Polanco was convicted, two witnesses swore in affidavits that Polanco was not the assailant. The trial justice granted a new trial, and the State dismissed the case against Polanco, who had been incarcerated for thirty-two months. Polanco and his wife later sued the City of Providence and Camardo, alleging negligence. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the complaint was time-barred. Plaintiffs objected, arguing that the discovery rule or equitable tolling should apply. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the complaint was untimely and Plaintiffs' claims were not tolled. View "Polanco v. Lombardi" on Justia Law

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In this negligence action, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Plaintiffs' motion for a new trial following a jury verdict in favor of Defendant, holding that the trial justice did not abuse his discretion in denying the motion for a new trial.Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant's negligence caused an automobile collision and that Plaintiffs suffered damages as a result. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Defendant. Plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial justice denied. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not overlook or misconceive material evidence in finding that reasonable minds could differ as to whether Defendant was liable and that the trial justice correctly performed his role when ruling on Plaintiffs' motion for a new trial. View "Dominguez v. Otero" on Justia Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the ground of prosecutorial immunity, holding that the hearing justice erred in applying prosecutorial immunity to the Building and Zoning Official for the Town of Cumberland (Building Official Hall) and the Town of Cumberland (Town).Plaintiffs sued the Solicitor for the Town of Cumberland (Solicitor Hefner), Building Official Hall, and the Town, claiming negligence, private nuisance, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief after Plaintiffs' neighbor prevailed on an action against the Town regarding its agreement with the Town regarding a retaining wall abutting Plaintiffs' property. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court vacated the decision in part, holding (1) Solicitor Hefner was entitled to prosecutorial immunity; (2) Building Official Hall failed to meet his burden of proof as to prosecutorial immunity; and (3) because this Court is vacating the superior court's decision with respect to Building Official Hall, the summary judgment decision with respect to the Town is also vacated. View "Diorio v. Hines Road, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this slip-and-fall case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants, holding that the trial justice properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants.Plaintiff sustained injuries when she tripped over a speed bump in the parking lot of a Walgreens Pharmacy. Plaintiff sued Walgreens and the landlords of the property, alleging negligence, premises liability, and vicarious liability. The trial justice granted judgment judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to produce competent evidence to establish that the speed bump presented an unreasonable danger or that it was negligently constructed and maintained. View "Yanku v. Walgreen Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the final decree of the Workers' Compensation Court (WCC) upholding an award of accidental disability benefits for occupational cancer to Petitioner, holding that the WCC had jurisdiction to hear Petitioner's appeal but erred in finding that R.I. Gen. Laws 45-19.1-1 contains a conclusive presumption that all cancer in firefighters is occupational cancer.Petitioner served as a firefighter for the City of Cranston until he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Petitioner applied for accidental disability benefit based upon his cancer diagnosis. The Retirement Board of the Municipal Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island denied the application, finding that Petitioner did not prove that his cancer arose out of and in the course of his employment as a firefighter. The WCC then filed his petition arguing that, pursuant to chapter 19.1 of title 45, all cancers contracted by firefighters are presumed to be work-related. The trial judge agreed and reversed the board. The Supreme Court quashed the decree in part, holding that chapter 19.1 of title 45 does not contain any presumption that all cancers in firefighters are occupational cancers. View "Lang v. Municipal Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against Child and Family Services of Newport County (CFS) alleging defamation, constructive termination, discrimination, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, holding that the hearing justice properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims.Specifically, the Court held (1) where the complaint did not allege that CFS made any false statements about Defendant, Plaintiff did not sufficiently allege a claim for defamation; (2) Plaintiff did not properly plead a claim for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) the complaint did not include sufficient facts to allege a prima facie case of either employment discrimination or a civil rights violation; and (4) the hearing justice did not err in dismissing the amended complaint with prejudice. View "Ferreira v. Child and Family Services of Rhode Island" on Justia Law

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In this case stemming from an incident that allegedly took place while Plaintiff was held in pretrial detention at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants following entry of an order that denied Plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error.In his complaint, Plaintiff, who was serving consecutive sentences of life imprisonment, alleged that he was attacked by a fellow inmate and that the attack was made possible by a correctional officer. Plaintiff sued ACI, the state, and various John Does, alleging negligence for failing properly to protect him. The trial justice granted Defendants' motion to dismiss based on Rhode Island's civil death statute, R.I. Gen. Laws 13-6-1. Thereafter, the trial justice denied Plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice properly denied Plaintiff's motion to amend; and (2) Plaintiff's arguments that the civil death statute is unconstitutional on various grounds were barred by the "raise-or-waive" rule and procedural law. View "Gallop v. Adult Correctional Institutions" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant and the third-party defendant (collectively, Defendants) on Plaintiff's complaint alleging negligence for her injuries and the third-party complaint seeking to defend, indemnify, and hold the third-party defendant harmless for claims arising out of the third-party defendant's duty under Defendants' snow services agreement, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment.Specifically at issue before the trial justice was whether there were genuine issues of material fact as to the dangerous condition that caused Plaintiff's fall that would preclude summary judgment. The trial justice weighed the evidence before her at least twice during the summary judgment hearing. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court's judgments, holding that the trial justice improperly weighed the evidence before her at the summary judgment hearing. View "Voccola v. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the order of the superior court that quashed the oral deposition of M.Y., the minor daughter of Defendants, holding that the hearing justice erred when he quashed M.Y.'s oral deposition and required Plaintiffs to depose M.Y. via written questions "in accord with the rules of civil procedure."In this tort action, the hearing justice prohibited M.Y.'s oral deposition in order to limit any potential harm to M.Y., a minor child who suffered from generalized anxiety. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the hearing justice should have allowed the oral deposition to continue under reasonable restrictions while still preserving Plaintiffs' right to relevant discovery. The Supreme Court held that where the evidence of potential harm to M.Y. was speculative and conclusory, Defendants failed to overcome their burden to demonstrate good cause as required by Rule 26(c) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court remanded the case so that Plaintiffs may conduct an oral deposition of M.Y. and noted that the hearing justice may impose reasonable restrictions on the oral deposition. View "Estate of Brian Chen v. Ye" on Justia Law