Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Brown University and the City of Providence. In count one of their complaint Plaintiffs sought a declaration that the university’s construction of an artificial turf field hockey field with attendant bleachers, electronic scoreboard, press box, and public-address system was an unlawful use under the Providence zoning ordinance. The superior court granted summary judgment to Defendants as to count one. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that the hearing justice erred in finding that Plaintiffs had no standing with respect to count one because, as abutting property owners, Plaintiffs clearly established an articulable injury in fact. View "Key v. Brown University" 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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The raise-or-waive rule barred consideration of the argument brought before the Supreme Court on appeal in this breach of a promissory note case. In a prior appeal in this case, the Supreme Court affirmed a judgment of the superior court in favor of the Judgment Creditor against the Judgment Debtors in the amount of nearly $4 million plus post-judgment interest on claims for breach of a promissory note and breach of a guaranty of that note. In this second appeal, one of the judgment debtors (Judgment Debtor) appealed from an order of the superior court directing that Judgment Creditor be substituted for Judgment Debtor as the party to litigate Judgment Debtor’s claims in receivership proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the issue raised on appeal was not properly before the court due to the raise-or-waive rule. View "Tri-Town Construction Co. v. Commerce Park Associates 12, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from litigation beginning in 2000 between feuding neighbors who disputed several issues, including the details of an easement that resulted from a court-mandated land petition. In 2005, the Ballards filed an answer to SVF Foundation’s fifth amended complaint and also counterclaimed, alleging, inter alia, that SVF Foundation was interfering with the Ballards’ easement that ran across SVF’s property. The superior court granted summary judgment to SVF. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that the hearing justice erred when he applied law-of-the-case in his ruling on SVF’s motion for summary judgment. View "Hamilton v. Ballard" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a two-count declaratory judgment action seeking adjudication regarding its use of a roadway over Defendant’s abutting property. The trial justice issued a decision in favor of Plaintiff, concluding that Plaintiff had an easement or right-of-way over this roadway and that its use of the right-of-way was not limited to a specific use. Defendant appealed, arguing that the proposed use of the right-of-way by Plaintiff was an unreasonable extension of the use intended by the parties when the easement was originally created. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice was not clearly wrong when she concluded that there was no restriction on the use of the right-of-way. View "Plainfield Pike Development, LLC. v. Victor Anthony Properties, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Wells Fargo foreclosed upon Plaintiff’s home, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Wells Fargo, asserting six causes of action. The superior court granted Wells Fargo’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on all six counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s claim that Wells Fargo breached federal guidelines regarding loan modification review and improperly foreclosed on her home while her loan modification request was pending was not properly preserved for appeal; (2) Wells Fargo did not breach the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) the superior court justice did not err in finding that Plaintiff failed to meet the burden of proof on her claim that her reliance on the federal regulations should not have estopped Wells Fargo from foreclosing on the property. View "Miller v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Defendant owned a property on Arnold Street. Defendant executed a note in favor of Ameriquest Mortgage Company secured by a mortgage on the Arnold Street property. Plaintiff asserted that Ameriquest assigned the Arnold Street mortgage to Deutsche Bank. Plaintiff later commended this litigation seeking a declaratory judgment that the Arnold Street mortgage was a valid, perfected first-priority mortgage on the Arnold Street property and that full payment or satisfaction had not been received on the Arnold Street note. The motion justice granted summary judgment for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) contrary to Defendant’s contention, there was not a genuine dispute of material fact with respect to whether the Arnold Street note was endorsed; and (2) the Arnold street mortgage was validly assigned to Plaintiff. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the trial justice did not err in finding that a 1909 Plat and Indenture did not reveal manifest intent to dedicate an over two-mile stretch of beach in the Misquamicut area of Westerly, Rhode Island to the public. The Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the current beachfront landowners in the disputed area, holding that the trial justice did not err in finding that the evidence the State put forth - including the 1909 Plat and Indenture and and the extrinsic evidence - failed to demonstrate manifest intent by the Plattors to dedicate the beach area to the public. View "Kilmartin v. Barbuto" on Justia Law

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The Zoning Officer for the Town of Hopkinton issued a notice of violation to Todd and Tina Sposato for being in violation of the Hopkinton Zoning Ordinance by having four alpacas on their property, which was located in an R-1 zone. The Zoning Board overturned the Zoning Officer’s ruling, concluding that alpacas are “domestic animals,” and therefore, keeping them on the property was a permitted use. Thereafter, the Zoning Board of Review of the Town of Hopkinton imposed four “conditions” on the Sposatos with respect to the continued presence of alpacas on the property. The fourth condition explicitly provided that “[t]he right to keep alpaca on this property does not run with the land; that is, if the [Sposatos] sell this property the next owners are not permitted to keep alpaca.” The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the judgment of the superior court, holding that the last of the four conditions imposed upon the Sposatos by the Zoning Board was inconsistent with venerable and settled principles in the law of land use. View "Preston v. Zoning Board of Review of Town of Hopkinton" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Bayal Restaurant Inc. entered into a lease agreement with the predecessor in interest to plaintiff to rent certain commercial property. Aly Diene (Defendant), in consideration of the lease, executed a personal guaranty. In 2013, title to the premises was conveyed to OSJ of Providence, LLC (Plaintiff). In conjunction with the conveyance, all rights of the seller were transferred to Plaintiff. After Bayal defaulted on the terms of the lease, Plaintiff demanded overdue rent, interest, and fees. When Plaintiff did not receive the full amount requested, Plaintiff filed a complaint for eviction for nonpayment of rent. The parties entered into a stipulated judgment, but Bayal failed to make any payments pursuant to the stipulated judgment. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant for default on the guaranty. Summary judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff as to Defendant’s liability under the guaranty. After a hearing, judgment was entered for Plaintiff in the amount of $37,760.04. The Supreme Court denied Defendant’s appeal, holding (1) Plaintiff’s claim was not time-barred; and (2) the hearing justice properly granted Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. View "OSJ of Providence, LLC v. Diene" on Justia Law