Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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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

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In 2012, Nappa Construction Management, LLC (Nappa) and Caroline and Vincent Flynn (the Flynns) entered into a contract for a commercial construction project. Service Insurance Company, Inc. (Service Insurance) furnished a performance bond on the contract. In 2013, the Flynns directed Nappa to stop work on the project. Nappa subsequently submitted an application for payment, which the Flynns declined to pay. Nappa then terminated the contract due to nonpayment. The Flynns filed an action alleging that Nappa had wrongfully terminated the contract. Nappa filed a demand for arbitration in accordance with an arbitration provision in the contract and also named Service Insurance as a party to the arbitration. The arbitrator found that Nappa was not justified in terminating the contract but concluded that, under the termination-for-convenience clause in the contract, neither Nappa nor the Flynns were in breach of the contract. The arbitrator awarded Nappa $37,980. The superior court granted Nappa’s petition to confirm the arbitration award, concluding that the arbitrator did not exceed his powers in holding that the contract was terminated for convenience. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court’s judgment, holding that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in interpreting the contract. View "Nappa Construction Management, LLC v. Flynn" on Justia Law

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Cardi Corporation contracted with the State to construct a portion of a highway construction project dealing with Interstate 195 in Rhode Island (I-Way Project). Cardi subcontracted with High Steel to supply steel for the project. Asserting that it was never paid for 182,873 pounds of temporary steel bracing, High Steel brought suit against Cardi. In response, Cardi filed a third-party action for breach of contract against the State. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the State on the third-party suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the contract was clear and unambiguous and did not require payment for temporary bracing steel. View "High Steel Structures, Inc. v. Cardi Corp. v. State" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute over the construction of a backyard patio at Defendant’s property. Defendants, the property owners, hired a general contractor, who contracted with Plaintiff for masonry work. Plaintiff filed suit, asserting that Defendants owed it money beyond that paid to it by the general contractor. At issue during the bench trial was whether Plaintiff was paid to construct Defendants’ backyard patio. The trial justice ultimately entered judgment for Defendants. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial justice erred in his factual determinations and credibility assessments. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice neither overlooked nor misconceived material evidence. View "A. Salvati Masonry Inc. v. Andreozzi" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Michael Rose and RC&D, Inc. filed suit against Defendants Stephen Brusini and the law firm Orson & Brusini Ltd. alleging professional negligence and breach of contract. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that there was no evidence of proximate cause linking Defendants’ alleged negligence and any damages Plaintiffs may have suffered. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that Rose submitted sufficient competent evidence to preclude the entry of summary judgment for defendants on a question of fact relating to Defendants’ liability. Remanded. View "Rose v. Brusini" on Justia Law