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Civil Case Summaries 2011



2011-163  Carmella Bucci v. Hurd Buick                                       (full briefing)

The plaintiff appeals from summary judgment entered in the Superior Court in favor of defendant Hurd Pontiac GMC Truck, LLC, Hurd Pontiac GMC Truck, LLC, d/b/a Regine Pontiac GMC, and Hurd Chevrolet, Inc.  The plaintiff alleged that she was fired because of her age and a perceived disability in violation of the Fair Employment Practices Act and, in retaliation for taking time off for cataract surgery and recuperation, invoking the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act.  Plaintiff maintains that she met her burden of proving pretext. 

2011-177 James Brown v. Elmer Stanley                                      (show cause) 

Plaintiff BlueLinx Corporation, Inc. appeals from an entry of summary judgment in favor of defendant Elmer Stanley.  The plaintiffs sought contribution in this case from the defendants for damages the plaintiffs paid to Mary Cummings for her personal injuries when a truck owned by BlueLinx hit her.  The plaintiffs allege that the defendants were negligent in supervising a charity walk.  BlueLinx argues that summary judgment was not appropriate because the defendant was personally liable for his actions in working on behalf of defendant Project Hope at the charity walk. 

2011-384  Donna Bainville v. Peter Brennan                                    (full briefing)
Defendants appeal from a judgment in favor of plaintiff in this dispute over the location of the common boundary line between two lots in the town of Tiverton.  The Superior Court, after a non-jury trial, ordered defendants to remove a building and to pay monetary damages to plaintiff.  Defendant argues that the doctrine of acquiescence “trumps” the plaintiff’s surveyor’s division line, and that the damage award is therefore unwarranted.  Alternatively, defendants contend the award is duplicative given the order to remove the building. 



2011-107  Charles Burns v. Moorland Farm Condo                        (full briefing)

Defendant appeals from a judgment entered in favor of the plaintiffs, and proposed intervenors appeal from the denial of their motion to intervene.  The Superior Court entered a declaratory judgment that declared that decks and pocket decks at the Moorland Farm Condominium were not common areas or limited common areas.  The defendant was ordered to issue a reassessment of the $669,544.08 cost of the deck replacement to the individual unit owners whose decks and entry court areas received work. The defendant was also required to reimburse those unit owners who wrongfully paid the special assessments for the deck project.  The defendant contends that the plaintiffs failed to name indispensable parties to this action by not joining a number of condominium unit owners, and that the trial judge erred in determining that the decks and pocket decks were not limited common areas.  The defendant also argues that the trial judge erred in excluding certain evidence at trial, and further argues that the trial judge erred in denying the defendant’s motion for relief from judgment and in issuing Rule 11 sanctions against the defendant.  The intervenors contend that they should have been permitted to intervene and that the declaratory judgment is void without their intervention.


2011-262  In re Estate of Anna Marie Picillo                                      (full briefing)

Appellant appeals from the denial of his probate appeal.  He contends that the Superior Court erred in making no findings that the formalities for execution of a will, as set forth in Rhode Island General Laws § 33-5-5 (2011), were followed during the execution of decedent Ann Marie Picillo’s will.  He also asserts that the trial judge erred in finding that Ann was not subject to undue influence in the making of her will and additionally contends that Ann did not have the requisite testamentary capacity to execute her will. 


2011-338  Steven Iadevaia v. Town of Scituate Zoning Board            (full briefing)

The petitioner filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of certiorari seeking review of a Superior Court judgment denying his zoning appeal.  The petitioner contends that the Superior Court erred in determining that he was not entitled to a dimensional variance because he created his own hardship.  The petitioner asserts that his parcel has always had two lots and therefore he did not create his own hardship by subdividing his land into two lots.  The petitioner also argues that the town of Scituate’s zoning ordinance does not have a minimum frontage requirement.





2011-132-A.  Frederick Carrozza v. Michael Voccola                     (full briefing)


The plaintiffs appeal from a Superior Court judgment in favor of the defendants, after a jury-waived trial regarding a claim of slander of title in this family dispute over four parcels of property.  The trial justice awarded the defendants compensatory damages of $630,000, interest, expenses of $24,080, and attorney’s fees of $151,267, as well as punitive damages, against Frederick, Sr. only, of $845,000.  Following the entry of judgment, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied.  The plaintiffs filed an amended notice of appeal, in which they indicated that they were also appealing from the denial of their new trial motion.


2011-199-A. Maureen O’Connell v. William Walmsley                        (full briefing)


The plaintiffs appeal from a Superior Court judgment as a matter of law in favor of the defendant after a jury trial in this case arising from a tragic automobile accident that took place on the New London Turnpike in Coventry, Rhode Island on March 9, 2003.  The plaintiffs claim that there was sufficient evidence to show that the defendant’s negligence was a proximate cause of the collision, asserting that two experts testified that the defendant’s speed was a contributing cause of the collision.  In addition, the plaintiffs argue that evidence was introduced that the defendant had been drinking on the day of the accident, and that, because he was impaired when the collision occurred, he failed to take evasive action to avoid the accident.




2011-239-A.  Mary Gentilli v. Woodland Manor Improv. Assoc.              (full briefing)


Allen Shine, trustee of Woodland Manor Improvement Association and trustee of Woodland Sewer System Trust, appeals from an order dismissing this trusteeship action in the Superior Court. 


2011-312-A.  Elizabeth Morel v. City of Providence                                          (show cause)


The defendant appeals from a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, in this personal injury case.  The defendant claims that medical affidavits submitted by the plaintiff failed to conform to statutory requirements.  The defendant also argues that the trial justice erred in limiting the cross-examination of the plaintiff.


2011-105-A.  Donald Panarello v. State                                                            (full briefing)


The plaintiff appeals from a judgment entered in favor of the defendants in this employment discrimination case.  The plaintiff asserts in this action that the defendants wrongfully denied him a promotion based on the fact that he was away on military leave.  The plaintiff contends that the trial judge used the wrong burden shifting standard of proof in denying his claim.  The plaintiff also contends that the trial judge overlooked material evidence of discrimination committed by the Department of Corrections.  

2011-85-A. Chariho Regional School District v. Deborah Gist                            (full briefing) 


Plaintiffs, the Chariho Regional School District and the Cranston School Department, appeal from an order denying and dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint, petitioning the court for a writ of mandamus.  On appeal, plaintiffs argue that the hearing justice erred in denying their petition for a writ of mandamus in his findings: (1) that the Commissioner of Education’s decision to deny the plaintiffs reimbursement for certain employees’ salaries and benefits was discretionary in nature, and not merely ministerial; and (2) that the plaintiffs had an adequate remedy at law, and accordingly, mandamus did not lie.


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