Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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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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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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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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Cashman sued, alleging Cardi provided defective cofferdams for construction of the Sakonnet River Bridge. Cofferdams are temporary watertight enclosures that are pumped dry to expose the bottom of a body of water so that construction can occur. During discovery, Cashman sought, and Cardi refused to produce, computer models and draft reports that had been “considered by” its testifying engineering expert to determine “certain stress and loads that are going to be placed on certain points on this cofferdam,” including models “that [the expert] created which [he] may not have relied on but certainly would’ve considered” and draft reports. Cardi argued that Rule 26(b)(4)(A) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure does not allow discovery of materials “considered by” an expert in forming an expert opinion. The hearing justice concluded that he did not have the authority to compel production of the material. The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed, after considering interpretations of the corresponding Federal Rule. The state rule is “clear and unambiguous” and is confined to discovery through interrogatories or deposition. It does not provide for the disclosure of documents. View "Cashman Equip. Corp., Inc. v. Cardi Corp., Inc." on Justia Law

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RICS executed a note secured by a mortgage on real estate. Meanwhile, TLA entered into a contract with RICS to provide architectural and engineering services for the project and recorded two documents related to its work on the project. Subsequently, TLA filed a petition to enforce its mechanics' lien. No claimant timely entered an appearance in TLA's mechanics' lien litigation to preserve the priority of their claims. Months later, Petra purchased the note and mortgage, which had not been recorded by the previous owner. Meanwhile, the superior court entered a consent order signed by RICS and TLS in the mechanics' lien litigation. RICS subsequently conveyed the property, and the court placed the property into receivership. Petra later filed a motion to file an answer and statement of claim out of time in the mechanics' lien proceedings. The court granted the motion, thereby restoring the mortgage's priority over TLA's mechanics' lien. The property was sold to Petra through a receivership action. The Supreme Court reversed the superior court's grant of Petra's motion, thereby restoring the priority of TLA's mechanics' lien, holding that the motion justice erred in determining that Petra's failure to file a timely statement of claim was the result of "excusable neglect." View "R.I. Constr. Servs., Inc. v. Harris Mill, LLC" on Justia Law

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This litigation stemmed from a dispute over monies allegedly owed to a now-defunct corporation for work performed as part of a construction project that took place in 1990. Plaintiff corporation instituted suit about twenty-two years ago. Seventeen years later, the superior court dismissed the action, finding that Plaintiff could neither maintain the action in its own name nor substitute another entity as Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, as a defunct corporation, Plaintiff could no longer maintain this action in its own name, and because the receiver was discharged when Plaintiff was dissolved, the receiver could not maintain the action on its behalf. View "Piccoli & Sons, Inc. v. E & C Constr. Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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A general contractor (Carlisle) for a construction project contracted with Plaintiff to perform carpentry work for the project. A bond was issued for the project. Carlisle was the principal on the bond, and International Fidelity Insurance Company (IFIC) was the surety. Plaintiff later filed suit against Carlisle and IFIC seeking to recover payment for the work it performed. The arbitrator issued two amended awards. Plaintiff moved the superior court to confirm the second amended awarded concerning Carlisle's liability and to modify it as to IFIC. The trial justice remanded the matter back to the arbitrator for a determination as to IFIC's liability. The arbitrator on remand found that both Carlisle and IFIC were liable to Plaintiff for $43,543. The trial justice confirmed the post-remand arbitration award. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) the second amended award should have been vacated under R.I. Stat. 37-16-18(2), and the trial justice was authorized, under section 37-16-19, to remand the case to the same arbitrator for a hearing; and (2) because the remand in this case accomplished the same result that could have been accomplished under section 37-16-18 and 37-16-19, the judgment was affirmed. View "Drago Custom Interiors, LLC v. Carlisle Bldg. Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this petition was whether G.L. 1956 section 5-6-2 permits only licensed electricians to install underground hollow polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material that is devoid of any electrical wiring or conductors. The Board of Examiners of Electricians, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), and the Superior Court all determined that 5-6-2 required a licensed electrician to perform such work. The petitioners, Reilly Electrical Contractors, Inc. (Relco), Michael McSheffrey, Robert Rutledge, John Brewer, and Ray Bombardier, disagreed and petitioned the Court for a writ of certiorari. Upon review of the statute at issue here, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court. View "Reilly Electrical Contractors, Inc. v. Rhode Island" on Justia Law

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The facts of this case were "clear and undisputed; in point of fact, they are a textbook example of a mechanic's-lien dispute." Plaintiff, GSM Industrial, Inc., was a subcontractor that entered into an agreement with AirPol, Inc., a general contractor, to install an air-pollution-control mechanism on property owned by Defendant Grinnell Fire Protection Systems Company, Inc. When AirPol failed to pay GSM the balance of its fee, GSM filed a complaint to enforce a mechanic's lien against Grinnell. The particular issue before the Supreme Court was whether a notarial acknowledgment in a subcontractor's notice of intention satisfied the statutory requirement that such a statement be "under oath." A justice of the Superior Court ruled that a Pennsylvania notary public's "acknowledgement" was insufficient to satisfy the oath requirement, and, as a result, the notice was fatally defective. Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed, and affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court. View "GSM Industrial, Inc. v. Grinnell Fire Protection Systems Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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When Plaintiffs' efforts to act as general contractors on a new home foundered because of faulty work performed by a framing subcontractor, they made a claim on the homeowner's insurance policy issued to them by Defendant, Peerless Insurance Company. After Defendant denied the claim, citing two exclusions in the policy, Plaintiffs filed a declaratory-judgment action against the carrier. A hearing justice determined that the terms of the policy were ambiguous. Consequently, the hearing justice construed the policy against the insurer and entered judgment for the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err when she determined that the policy was ambiguous; and (2) Plaintiffs were entitled to coverage for the repairs that were necessary to bring their home into compliance with the applicable building code. View "Koziol v. Peerless Ins. Co." on Justia Law