Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment for Defendant, Price Rite, on count one of Plaintiff’s complaint and also granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss the remaining four counts. Plaintiff slipped and fell on liquid in an aisle of a store owned by Defendant. Plaintiff’s amended complaint alleged negligence, breach of contract, mode of operation, failure to warn, and breach of the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for use, and fitness for a particular purpose. The court granted summary judgment on the negligence count and dismissed the remaining counts. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment on Plaintiff’s negligence claim and affirmed the dismissal of the remaining counts, holding (1) Plaintiff satisfied her burden of producing competent evidence that proved the existence of a disputed issue of material fact with respect to Defendant’s safety procedures or lack thereof, (2) the trial judge impermissibly weighed the evidence in his decision granting summary judgment, and (3) there is no requirement at the summary judgment stage for a plaintiff to produce direct evidence of how long a spill has existed on a floor. View "Dent v. PRRC, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of West Davisville Realty Co., LLC (West Davisville) holding David Paolo liable on a personal guaranty of a termination of lease agreement between West Davisville and Alpha Nutrition, Inc. (Alpha). West Davisville filed a complaint against Alpha and Paolo alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The hearing justice granted West Davisville’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any attempt by Paolo to point to purported evidence that West Davisville fraudulently induced Paolo to personally guarantee the agreements was not relevant in this appeal; and (2) the personal guaranty was valid because the underlying termination agreement was supported by consideration. View "West Davisville Realty Co. v. Alpha Nutrition, Inc." 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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In this commercial property dispute between a landlord, Roadepot, LLC and Keyserton, LLC (collectively, Roadepot), and a tenant, Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc., regarding sewer assessment charges, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part judgments of the superior court. The Supreme Court held that the superior court (1) properly granted partial summary judgment in favor of Home Depot obligating Roadepot to pay the disputed sewer assessment charges; (2) the superior court erred in requiring Roadepot to reimburse Home Depot for sewer assessment charges paid by Home Depot before September 17, 2009; and (3) did not err in limiting Home Depot’s request for prejudgment interest and denying its claim for late fees on the sewer assessment charges. View "Roadepot, LLC et al. v. Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law

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This lawsuit arose from a dispute over an alleged commercial lease agreement between Plaintiffs, owners of certain property, and Defendants, who Plaintiffs claimed breached the terms of the lease. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, finding no genuine issues of material fact. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed in connection with two factual issues, and because of the fact-intensive nature of both of these inquiries, the case was not suitable for summary judgment and should, instead, have been resolved after a trial on the merits. View "Albert J. Branch Revocable Trust v. Interstate Battery Center" on Justia Law

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Some four years after Plaintiff suffered a casualty loss to his property, Plaintiff sued Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Defendant), which insured the property pursuant to a policy that it had issued to Plaintiff, alleging breach of contract and bad faith. Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the claim must fail because Plaintiff did not fully comply with the provisions of the policy and because Plaintiff brought suit more than two years after the date of loss, in contravention of the terms of the insurance contract. The hearing justice granted Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to adhere to the two-year limitation provision, Plaintiff was not entitled to relief. View "Chase v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial justice’s determination that Plaintiff’s reappointment to his fourth consecutive two-year term as assistant zoning inspector in the Town of North Smithfield did not constitute a contract of employment. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging breach of employment contract and a violation of his constitutional rights after his employment was terminated for budgetary reasons. The trial court entered final judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial justice’s decision, holding that Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to support his contention that a valid contract existed. View "Andoscia v. Town of North Smithfield" on Justia Law

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In case concerning a lease dispute, the Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiff was not in privity of contract, either through a lease agreement or an attainment agreement, and could not challenge the validity of the original lease or any of its amendments. Plaintiff filed a four-count complaint against Defendants. The superior court granted Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment with respect to the declarations sought. On the eve of trial, the superior court granted full summary judgment for Defendants and entered final judgment for Defendants, concluding that Plaintiff was not in privity of contract with Defendants and lacked standing to assert the allegations raised in its complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "1112 Charles, L.P. v. Fornel Entertainment, Inc." on Justia Law

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At dispute in this case was an allegedly underfunded trust that was created by the decedent, Donelson Glassie (Donelson), for the benefit of his daughter, the late Jacquelin Glassie (Jacquelin), in accordance with a property settlement agreement between Jacquelin’s divorcing parents, Donelson and Marcia Glassie. After Donelson died, Jacquelin filed a claim against his estate, alleging that her father breached the property settlement agreement by failing to properly fund the trust. The claim was denied. Jacquelin then filed this action alleging breach of contract in that Donelson failed to carry out the provisions of the property settlement agreement. Jacquelin then died. Alison Glassie was appointed executrix of Jacqulin’s estate and was substituted as plaintiff in this action. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the executor of Donelson’s estate, concluding that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue the estate because, generally, only a trustee may institute an action on behalf of the beneficiaries of a trust. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plaintiff lacked the requisite standing to sue her father’s estate for benefits she would have received based on her status as the beneficiary of the trust. View "Glassie v. Doucette" on Justia Law

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Lend Lease (US) Construction was the general contractor on a project, and Rossi Electric Company, Inc. was a subcontractor. An employee of Rossi’s subcontractor was injured while working on the project and filed a negligence claim against Lend Lease. Lend Lease filed a third-party complaint against Rossi, alleging that, under the terms of a contract between the parties, Rossi was required to defend and indemnify Lend Lease. The superior court entered an order granting summary judgment for Rossi. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that issues of material fact remained to be determined, and therefore, this case was not ripe for summary judgment. Remanded. View "Walsh v. Lend Lease (US) Construction" on Justia Law