Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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 in favor of Plaintiffs, Johnston Equities Associates, LP and Stay Away From the Cans, LLC on their trespass claim against Defendants, the Town of Johnston and its officials, for allowing sewage from the Town's sewer pipelines to be discharged into JEA's private sewer pipeline, holding that the trial justice erred in part.The jury awarded Plaintiffs $1.2 million in their favor, but the trial justice ruled that the statutory cap of $100,000 under R.I. Gen. Laws 9-31-3 was applicable because Plaintiffs' claim constituted a governmental function. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial justice (1) properly denied the Town's motions for judgment as a matter of law; (2) did not err in not applying the public duty doctrine; but (3) erred in applying the statutory cap on damages and in denying prejudgment interest. View "Johnston Equities Associates, LP v. Town of Johnston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting declaratory and injunctive relief in favor of Plaintiffs and denying declaratory and injunctive relief requested in a counterclaim filed by Defendants, holding that Defendants were not entitled to relief on their claims of error.On appeal, Defendants challenged the trial justice's ruling that a two-member condominium board consisting of the owners of the condominium's two units were not inconsistent with the R.I. Condominium Act, holding them in contempt, and awarding Plaintiffs attorneys' fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court correctly denied Defendants' counterclaims; (2) the trial justice did not abuse its discretion in findings Defendants in civil contempt of a temporary restraining order; and (3) there was no abuse of discretion with respect to the trial justice's award of attorneys' fees. View "Anton v. Houze" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the final judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants - Jordan Realty and Smart Homes, LLC - and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that his due process rights were violated when Jordan Realty failed to include a "language assistance notice" with its petition to foreclose right of redemption to a specific parcel of real estate in Central Falls, holding that there was no error.In his complaint, Plaintiff argued that the "purported service" made upon him was defective because Jordan Realty had not caused to be served upon him the language assistance notice that he argued was required. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendants, holding that Defendants had clearly complied with the notice requirements set forth in the tax sale statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in granting summary judgment for Defendants. View "Suncar v. Jordan Realty" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying and dismissing all claims in Plaintiffs' complaint challenging a contested amendment to the City of Providence Zoning Ordinance that would allow the construction of a new high-rise building in Providence's Knowledge District, holding that there was no error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) henceforth, when the superior court reviews a case pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 45-24-71, review of that judgment must be sought in the Supreme Court through a petition for a writ of certiorari; (2) the hearing justice did not err in determining that Plaintiffs' evidence was insufficient to rebut the presumption of validity of the amendment; and (3) Plaintiffs were not entitled to relief on their remaining allegations of error. View "Peter Scotti & Associates, Inc. v. Yurdin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court entering final judgment in favor of Defendants - Forsons Realty, LLC, Ferrara Mechanical Services Inc., and Daniel Ferrara - and dismissing the complaint brought by the Town of Coventry stemming from the activities of an industrial enterprise conducting business on certain property, holding that there was no error.At issue on appeal was the trial justice's decision to allow heavy duty vehicle inspections to be performed on the property provided that certain conditions were adhered to and the justice's ruling that there had not been an impermissible expansion of a pre-existing legal nonconforming use, holding that the trial justice was neither clearly wrong nor did she overlook or misconceive material evidence in her judgment. View "Town of Coventry v. Forsons Realty LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the portion of the superior court order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs as to liability against Westlo Management, LLC on counts one, two, three, and seven of Plaintiffs' third-amended complaint, holding that the record was inadequate for a determination of whether the hearing justice abused his discretion in granting the motion to intervene filed by The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.Plaintiff Curtis Andrade filed a charge of discrimination with the Commission. The Commission found probable cause that Defendants had violated Plaintiff's rights. Plaintiff then filed this action, after which the hearing justice granted the Commission's motion to intervene as a party plaintiff. The hearing justice granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on four counts against Westlo, finding that Westlo had discriminated against Plaintiff by denying him the reasonable accommodation of having his dog his residence. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below, holding that Westlo failed provide the Court with a proper transcript of the hearing on the Commission's motion to intervene this Court was unable to conduct a meaningful review of the superior court's decisions on the issue of the Commission's intervention. View "Andrade v. Westlo Management LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the superior court foreclosing Respondent's rights of redemption in property purchased by Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation (RIHMFC) through exercise of its right of first refusal, holding that there was no error.After it purchased the property at issue RIHMFC filed a petition to foreclose any existing rights of redemption in the property. RIHMFC was later granted entry of default on the basis that Respondent had not defended against the citation issued to her. Thereafter, an order entered establishing the redemption amount and terms. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent's arguments on appeal were unavailing. View "R.I. Housing & Mortgage Finance Corp. v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court reversing a decision of the Town of Richmond Zoning Board of Review that denied Plaintiff's application for a special-use permit to construct a solar energy system, holding that there was no error.On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the zoning board's decision was clearly erroneous arbitrary and capricious, and contrary to the law and the evidence. The superior court issued a decision in favor of Plaintiff, concluding that the zoning board decision was affected by an error of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in finding that the zoning board decision was affected by error of law. View "Freepoint Solar LLC v. Richmond Zoning Board of Review" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court awarding Plaintiffs final judgment in the amount of $498,309, holding that the superior court erred in denying Plaintiffs' petition to compel purchase in fee.The Providence Public Buildings Authority acquired the development rights of sixty-seven acres of land owned by Plaintiffs. The trial justice denied Plaintiffs' petition for a petition to compel purchase, and the issue of damages proceeded to a jury-waived trial. After the court entered its judgment Plaintiffs appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the trial court erred in denying their petition to compel purchase in fee. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below, holding (1) Plaintiffs' petition to compel purchase in fee was timely filed and, therefore, the doctrine of laches did not apply; and (2) this case is remanded to the superior court with directions to enter an order compelling the taking in fee and for the valuation of a fee-simple interest in the land. View "Mitola v. Providence Public Buildings Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court awarding Plaintiffs attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $25,472, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs - America Condominium Association, Inc. and Capella South Condominium Association, Inc. - brought this action alleging that the Constellation Trust-2011 was expanding a certain unit onto limited common elements and thereby changing the unit's boundaries. The superior court entered final judgment for Plaintiffs on three counts and deemed the remaining count moot. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case for the trial justice's valuation of the costs to be awarded, holding that the trial judge did not err in (1) awarding attorneys' fees and costs; and (2) deciding to discount the fees on fees award. View "America Condominium Ass'n v. Mardo" on Justia Law