Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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At issue was whether Plaintiff was entitled to relief under Rule 60(b)(6) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure from an order directing him to remove a garage from his property. In 2014, the superior court ordered Plaintiff to remove a garage he built on his property that violated the setback requirements set forth in the Town of Tiverton’s zoning ordinance. Thereafter, the Town removed the garage from Plaintiff’s property and placed a lien on the property for $69,300 in fines imposed by a 2015 contempt order. In 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate the 2014 order. The trial judge denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because the superior court possessed subject matter jurisdiction to order Plaintiff to remove his garage, and because the granting of the 2014 order did not violate due process, the order was not void; but (2) the unique circumstances of this case and its procedural flaws presented a manifest injustice justifying relief from the operation of the order under Rule 60(b)(6). View "McLaughlin v. Zoning Board of Review of the Town of Tiverton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal brought by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the State, holding that an appeal from a final judgment of the superior court brought under R.I. Gen. Laws 42-17-.1-2(21) must proceed by way of a petition for a writ of certiorari. The DEM commenced this action against Defendants seeking injunctive relief to enforce a compliance order that Defendants remediate certain property. The DEM also sought enforcement of is administrative penalty, arguing that its authority to do so arose from section 42-17-.1-2(21). DEM subsequently released Defendants from the remediation requirement but continued to seek enforcement of the administrative penalty. The trial justice concluded that DEM could not enforce an administrative penalty in the context of an action for injunctive relief. The DEM filed a notice of appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appeal was not properly before the Court. View "Coit v. Coccoli" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Santander Bank, N.A. in this complaint challenging Santander’s foreclosure of Plaintiff’s property. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Santander had failed to comply with the statutory notice requirements before it conducted the foreclosure sale. A justice of the superior court granted Santander’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was appropriate because there was no genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether Santander complied with the notice requirements of R.I. Gen. Laws 34-27-4(a) and 34-27-4)b. View "Adams v. Santander Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Plaintiffs, a group of taxpayers in the Town of Portsmouth, were required to base their tax appeals on the fair market value of their properties as of December 31 in the year of the last update or revaluation. The value of Plaintiffs’ properties decreased in 2008 and 2009. The trial justice found that Plaintiffs could challenge the Portsmouth tax assessor’s (Defendant) tax assessments for tax years 2009 and 2010 using the fair market values of their properties as of December 31, 2008 and December 31, 2009, respectively, thus concluding that Plaintiffs were not confined to December 31, 2007 valuations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs were authorized under chapter 5 of title 44 of the Rhode Island General Laws to challenge Defendant’s assessments for tax years 2009 and 2010 by employing the fair market values of their properties as of December 31, 2008 and December 31, 2009, respectively. View "Balmuth v. Dolce" on Justia Law

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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