Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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In this protracted litigation between Carol and A.L. Ballard and SVF Foundation and the Foundation’s predecessor owner regarding certain property, the Supreme Court affirmed summary judgments and an order of dismissal entered by the superior court on the eve of trial. The Court held that, contrary to the Ballards’ contentions on appeal, the superior court properly entered judgments on claims concerning the property sewer system and a driveway easement, properly dismissed an accounting claim based on an in-court conference, and did not err in denying the Ballards’ motion for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure against the attorney for the Foundation. View "Ballard v. SVF Foundation" on Justia Law

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Subsection 4(a) of Rhode Island’s Right to Farm Act, Rhode Island General Laws chapter 23 of title 2, does not permit Landowner to host commercial events, such as weddings for a fee, on his farmland in the Town of Exeter, Rhode Island. Landowner attempted to obtain a zoning certificate from the Town that would allow him to host a commercial fundraising event on his farmland. When the Town denied the request, Landowner filed suit, seeking a number of declarations. At issue was whether a 2014 amendment to R.I. Gen. Laws 2-23-4(a) rendered a previous permanent injunction enjoining Landowner from using his property for commercial events a nullity. The trial justice denied Landowner’s request for declaratory relief, concluding that the 2014 amendment did not supersede the 2011 injunction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, based on the unambiguous language of section 2-23-4(a), Landowner remained bound by the injunction. View "Gerald P. Zarrella Trust v. Town of Exeter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, on Plaintiff’s complaint alleging that Defendant was unable to foreclose on Plaintiff’s mortgage because it did not hold Plaintiff’s note. The superior court determined that Defendant was in fact the mortgagee and was entitled to foreclose on the mortgage. The Supreme Court upheld the hearing justice’s grant of Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, holding that because a mortgagee need not hold the note in order to foreclose on a property, Defendant, the mortgagee, was entitled to foreclose on Plaintiff’s property. View "Pimentel v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co." on Justia Law

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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