Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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Plaintiff Harodite Industries filed a complaint against defendant Warren Electric for negligence and other causes of action, seeking damages for the failure of a gasket in the oil pre-heater that Harodite purchased from defendant. After conducting discovery, Harodite filed a motion to amend its complaint. The hearing justice denied Harodite's motion. Plaintiff then filed a motion for a stay pending a ruling on the petition for writ of certiorari it intended to file with the Supreme Court. Defendant objected to the motion, arguing that the court should apply a Massachusetts statute of limitations to plaintiff's proposed amended complaint. The hearing justice held that Rhode Island's ten-year statute of limitations should apply and granted Harodite's motion for a stay. The Supreme Court affirmed the rulings of the superior court, holding (1) the hearing justice did not abuse her discretion in denying Harodite's motion to amend its complaint; and (2) the hearing justice correctly determined that Rhode Island's statute of limitations would be the relevant statute of limitations with respect to the allegations set forth in Harodite's proposed amended complaint, and therefore, those allegations would not be barred by the statute of limitations.

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Plaintiff Kathy Lamarque executed a mortgage with defendant Centreville Savings Bank. After defaulting on another loan for a second mortgage on the same property, defendant disclosed the balance of plaintiff's mortgage to the purchaser of plaintiff's property at a foreclosure sale. Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant for negligence and a violation of plaintiff's privacy rights. At trial, defendant moved for a judgment on partial findings, which the trial court granted. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that her right to privacy was violated by defendant and that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and defendant's privacy policy created a legal duty to protect private information from disclosure. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that under the facts of the case, plaintiff's privacy rights were not violated and defendant did not breach its duty to plaintiff.

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Citizens Bank filed a complaint against Howard Issler, seeking to recover funds allegedly owned to the bank in connection with a line of credit that the bank had extended to him. After judgment was entered against Howard and execution was returned unsatisfied, Citizens filed for a writ of attachment. Kymberly Issler, who had a joint account with Howard, then intervened in the civil action, objecting to the attachment and to the release of any funds to Citizens. A hearing officer granted the attachment. Citizens then filed a motion to charge garnishee to reach funds in the personal account. After a hearing, an order was entered granting Citizens' motion to charge garnishee and denying Kymberly's objection to the attachment of funds. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that, according to precedent, a bank has a right to use funds in a joint account to set off the debt of one account holder, regardless of whether that holder contributed any funds to the account. The Court then held that Citizens had a right to set off Howard's debt with the funds in the joint account to which he and Kymberly were signatories.