Providence wins ADA / Discrimination Appeal at the 1st Circuit

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the District court’s granting of a motion for summary judgment in a case involving a Providence Police Officer who claimed protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and state discrimination laws after failure to secure a promotion to Lieutenant.

Ultimately, the 3-judge panel opined that the District Court was correct in ruling that the Police Officer’s claimers were not covered by the ADA:

The short of it is that Mancini has disregarded the need for facts and has pinned his hopes to conclusory averments. Mancini was obliged to offer some evidence that he was substantially limited in the performance of one or more major life activities at the time of the allegedly discriminatory action(“actual disability”) or some time prior to that (“record of disability”), and he has defaulted on that obligation. Simply mimicking the language of the ADA, without more, does not suffice… He thus has failed to adduce evidence adequate to create a genuine issue of material fact as to the “substantially limits” requirement. For this reason, we uphold the district court’s entry of summary judgment on Mancini’s “actual disability” and “record of disability” claims.


23 New Amendments to the Local Rules of Rhode Island’s Federal Court

Attention federal bar practitioners: on November 19, the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, through Chief Judge William Smith and Judge Jack McConnell, approved 23 amendments to the Court’s Local Rules. The amended Local Rules will become effective on December 1, 2018 and will govern all proceedings in this Court that are pending, commenced or re-opened on and after that date.  One significant change is the streamlining of admission to the federal bar in the new LR Gen 201.

Listen to Audio in Sports Betting Case – Murphy vs. NCAA

At this link, you can listen to oral arguments for Murphy vs. NCAA via the United States Supreme Court.

Many states and state budgets are hoping for and/or relying on the Supreme Court to issue an opinion that would open the door for legalized sports betting.

SCOTUSBLOG, which has all of the case documents here, speculates that there are at least 5 votes trending in this direction.


1st Circuit rules in favor of gay marriage in Puerto Rico case

From Lawyer Herald:

In a ruling that has both civil, as well as geo-political undertones, the US First Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in Puerto Rico.

The US Appeals Court declared the District Court’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional, even throwing the judge off the case in an extraordinary step to dramatize its indignation over the decision, reported BuzzFeedNews. In an unsigned opinion the court strongly chastised the action of US District Court Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez and ordered that the case “be assigned randomly by the clerk to a different judge to enter judgment in favor of the Petitioners promptly.”

First Circuit Judges Juan Torruella, Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson, and William Joseph Kayatta Jr. heard the appellate action but the opinion was issued “per curiam,” meaning, “by the court” – as such, it does not have to be signed by any particular judge or judges.

In October 2014 Perez-Gimenez had ruled in favor of the ban but the same appeals court, the First District, returned the case to his bench after the US Supreme Court struck down gay marriage bans nationwide in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodge. Perez-Gimenez was ordered to reconsider the matter in light of Obergefell with the appeals court informing him they agreed with the appellants that the ban was unconstitutional. Notwithstanding the order Perez-Gimenez ruled in favor of the ban for the second time, arguing that the US Supreme Court ruling does not apply to Puerto Rico which is a territory and not a state.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to Recognize National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with Victims’ Grove Ceremony

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin will join U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections A.T. Wall, Providence Police Commissioner Steven Pare, Providence Police Colonel Hugh Clements, Rhode Island Division of Sheriffs Chief David DeCesare, and others on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at the annual Victims’ Grove Ceremony to honor individuals and organizations committed to providing support and resources for victims.

“For victims of crime, the effects may last long after the actual incident, and the process of rebuilding can be long. As this year’s theme indicates, serving victims involves building trust. The compassion and dedication of the individuals we honor today has given hope to countless victims of crime, and I am humbled to recognize their contributions,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.

The program will begin with the Providence Police Department Honor Guard presenting the colors followed by the National Anthem sung by Kim Maciel, an advocate at Day One.

Following a short speaking program and presentation to the honorees, guests will lay a wreath in memory of all victims of crimes.

When:             12:30 p.m. – Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Where:           Memorial Park – South Main Street, Providence

April 10 – April 16, 2016 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor victims and advocates of victims’ rights. This year’s theme – Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. – underscores the importance of early intervention and victim services in establishing trust with victims, which in turn begins to restore their hope for healing and recovery.

The 2016 honorees are:

Sheriff Edward Cooper and Angel Cooper

On September 1, 2015, Deputy Sheriff Edward Cooper, who was off-duty, arrested David Allison, 34, just after he had allegedly committed a homicide and violently attacked two other women, critically injuring both.  Deputy Cooper performed admirably and heroically in confronting this suspect, who had already allegedly murdered a woman and was pursuing another who had fled the residence.  Had Deputy Cooper not intervened in the situation, it is conceivable that the second woman, who had sustained serious stab wounds, would have been murdered as well.  Deputy Cooper displayed tremendous professionalism, courage, and restraint and is being commended for saving the lives of two women and that of the suspect as well.

As Deputy Cooper was outside his home apprehending the suspect, his wife Angel alerted Providence Police to the situation.  She provided important information that led to their swift arrival on scene and the arrest of the suspect.  Her actions ensured that all responding officers were aware of the situation and of her husband’s presence, which preserved the safety of all involved.

Providence Police Detective Koren Garcia

Detective Garcia has over 15 years in law enforcement, with two years’ experience as a detective in the Providence Police Department’s Investigative Bureau. As a detective, her focus has been on investigating sex crimes and human trafficking, and working closely with social services to help guide, influence, and empower victims to change their lives.

She is a professional who truly understands the victims’ perspective and provides services which reflect best practices in response to these victims and their interaction with law enforcement and justice.  She works extremely well in partnership with victim service organizations, going above and beyond to both secure justice for victims and to ensure the best efforts are made for follow up services, at the same time ensuring effective prosecution of the offender.  Detective Garcia understands the need for a holistic approach, and the importance of collaboration and partnership.

Rebekah Snyder, Volunteer Helpline Advocate with Day One

Rebekah Snyder is currently a graduate student at Roger Williams University, working towards a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology.  Since joining the team at Day One in 2014 as an intern, Rebekah has gone above and beyond as an advocate on Day One’s 24-hour HelpLine offering confidential support, information, and advocacy services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. During the past year she has exceeded the expectations of the intern and volunteer responsibilities to manage the HelpLine as the interim Advocacy Coordinator during the applicant search.

Working in partnership with local colleges and universities, Rebekah has also created the RI Campus Sexual Assault Guide for college survivors of sexual assault, which is the only guide of its kind in the state.  This guide will improve support and treatment options for victims throughout the state.  Furthermore, Rebekah is an active member of the Statewide Sexual Assault Task Force and works with the Roger Williams Student Conduct and Community Standards Program.

Alliance Security Company

In 2013, Alliance Security, a Rhode Island-based home security company, began its partnership with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and launched the “Friends of RICADV” program the following year.  Through the “Friends of RICADV” program, Alliance Security provides victims and survivors of domestic violence with free home alarm systems, installing them at no cost and providing free monitoring for one year.  So far, the company has installed nearly 50 alarm systems in survivors’ homes, as well as in the Coalition’s member agency shelters and transitional housing units.  In 2015, the partnership was named one of the nation’s “Promising Practices” by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

 In addition to the honorees, two individuals will be recognized for their past commitments to assisting victims of crimes:

  • Denise Alves, formerly with MADD-RI
  • Maryann Osediacz, former victim advocate with the Juvenile Prosecution Unit at the Office of Attorney General Family Court Unit.

Photo ID Required – Rhode Island Primary Elections 2014

Tuesday, more than 100,000 Rhode Islanders will vote in the Democratic and Republican Primaries.  For the first time, a photo ID will be required – although it is important to note that all voters – with ID or not – will be allowed to vote.

Confused?  Don’t be.  Voters who do not bring a Photo ID can still vote using a Provisional Ballot.  The voter can then check the status of their provisional ballot and whether the Board of Canvassers approved or rejected his or her ballot here.  The ballot should be counted if the signature he or she gives at the polling place matches the signature on the voter registration card.

Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID in English and in Spanish.
Photo ID Required in RI Election.Photo ID - Spanish

Voters can also check their polling location and view a sample ballot here.

Chicago Pizza, RICO and the Politics of Development

Ye Olde Town Inn owner Tod Curtis

Via the Chicago Tribune, the village of Mount Prospect, Illinois has agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit by a restaurant owner who has operated a pizzeria in the village for over 40 years.

The plaintiff cited a federal civil racketeering law, more commonly used to bust organized crime, when he filed his lawsuit in 2008 accusing the village of trying to force him out of his downtown business to make way for a new development project.

The lawsuit named the village and Oz Development LLC in alleging that they collaborated to try to push the plaintiff out, violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.

The case settled on the verge of trial and after a federal judge entered a judgment of $2.1 million against Oz Development last month.

Court Denies Motion to add Cities and Towns to Rhode Island State Pension Lawsuit

In an 18-page decision, Superior Court Associate Justice Sarah Taft-Carter denied the state’s motion to add various cities, towns and other governmental entities as indispensable parties (defendants) in Rhode Island Council 94, AFSCME, AFL-CIO Locals, et al. v. Lincoln Chafee, et al., No. 12-3168 (July 22, 2014).

At issue is Rule 19 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure which states the following:

A person who is subject to service of process shall be joined as a party in the action if (1) in the person’s absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) the person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in the person’s absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person’s ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of the person’s claimed interest.

The Court stated that municipalities are certainly relevant to the action, but not indispensable.  The Court stated as follows:

Municipal entities have no direct interest in this action. Plain tiffs’ retirement benefits stem directly from ERS, and not through CBAs with municipal entities. The implied contractual interest was found to be due to the circumstances between the State and the Plaintiffs. The State was acting as an employer when it enacted the pension statute. This forms the basis of the implied contract.

Furthermore, the absence of municipal entities from this action does not hinder the ability of this Court to accord relief in this case, given that Plaintiffs seek a declaration that a statute is unconstitutional.

Read the full opinion here.

Rhode Islander sues Cristiano Ronaldo over CR7

A Rhode Island man, Christopher Renzi, has filed a lawsuit in Rhode Island Federal Court seeking a declaratory judgement against Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo regarding trademark infringement for the term, “CR7.”

The case, in front of Judge Jack McConnell, is Christopher Renzi v. Cristiano Ronaldo, et. al. 14-cv-00341-M-PAS (click here to read the complaint).

cristiano ronaldo cr7The lawsuit, filed on July 28, 2014 by Providence lawyer Michael Feldhuhn, seeks a declaratory judgement that Rhode Islander Renzi “owns the trademark ‘CR7’ and that his continued use of the ‘CR7’ mark does not infringe any trademark owned or used by the defendants.”

The judgement is sought against both Ronaldo and JBS Textile Group, a Denmark clothing corporation who filed a petition to cancel Renzi’s “CR7” trademark registration from 2009 with the Trademark and Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Read the full complaint here.

RI Hispanic Bar Association Meet and Greet

The Rhode Island Hispanic Bar Association is hosting its 1st Meet and Greet on August 13, 2014 from 600pm to 830pm at Bravo (123 Empire Street).  At this networking event, the Association will take contributions for a scholarship being started aimed at helping young Latino college students interested in pursuing a law degree.

Federal Court: Warwick City Worker Prohibited from US Senate run

The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island yesterday refused to grant a temporary restraining order regarding a Warwick city law that is keeping a city classified employee, Raymond T. McKay, from running for the U.S. Senate against U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

The law in question is Section 48-107 of the Warwick Code of Ordinances:

Classified employees and members of personnel hearing board not to run for or hold elective office.permanent link to this piece of content No classified employee or member of the personnel hearing board shall seek the nomination of or be a candidate for any elective office; neither shall any elective officer be appointed a member of the personnel hearing board or a classified employee unless he/she resigns his/her elective office.

The Providence Journal reported further on the Court’s ruling.

McConnell, citing a raft of case law, including multiple rulings issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, forcefully asserted the legal standing of Warwick’s ordinances. “There is no question whatsoever that this is a proper exercise of the city’s right to regulate its work force,” McConnell said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently, clearly, and definitively said that local governments can prohibit … employees from running for partisan political offices because governments have sufficiently important interests — such as interest in visibly fair and effective administration and the interest in ensuring that employees are free from both coercion and the prospect of favor from political activity … .”

The full story is here.


Supreme Court decides Whistleblower Case in Rhode Island

In a ruling issued this week, in Peter W. Russo v. State of Rhode Island, Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals et al., No. 11-360 (March 24, 2014), the Rhode Island Supreme Court held that placing an employee on paid administrative leave with the requirement that he undergo an IME did not constitute an action which “discharge[d], threaten[ed], or otherwise discriminate[d]” against the employee in violation of the Rhode Island Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (WPA), G.L. 1956 chapter 50 of title 28.

In so holding, the Court vacated the decision of the Superior Court and held that the defendant did not violate the WPA.

In 2010, the Superior Court had held that the defendant had violated WPA when it placed the plaintiff on administrative leave with pay and required that he undergo an independent medical examination (IME). The defendant contended on appeal that the trial justice erred in finding: (1) that paid administrative leave and the requirement to undergo an IME constituted a “discharge, threat[], or * * * discriminat[ion]” under the WPA; (2) that the plaintiff had reported violations of a “law or regulation or rule promulgated under the law of [Rhode Island]” (which is one of the preconditions for obtaining relief under the WPA); (3) that there was a causal connection between the plaintiff’s reports at issue in the case and his placement on paid administrative leave; and (4) that the defendant did not have “legitimate nonretaliatory” grounds to place the plaintiff on paid administrative leave and require that he undergo an IME.

The Supreme Court agreed, stating that, “Since the MHRH did not “discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate” against Mr. Russo , it cannot be found to have violated the WPA and the trial justice’s decision must be reversed.”

Read the full opinion here.

Statute of Limitations for Underpayment of TDI Benefits

In a claim of underpayment of long-term disability benefits, the statute of limitations accrues at the time the underpayment is made known to the participant when (s)he receives his first miscalculated benefit award and not with each monthly benefit payment made, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this month in Riley v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 2014 WL 814742 (1st Cir. Mar. 4, 2014).

In 2012, plaintiff Robert Riley filed suit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. , against defendant Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (“MetLife”), arguing that MetLife had been underpaying his monthly benefits since its 2005 denial of his assertion that he was entitled to a larger payment calculation under his long-term disability insurance plan. The district court granted MetLife’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Riley’s suit was barred by the six-year statute of limitations. See Riley v. Metro. Life Ins. Co. , ___ F. Supp. 2d ___, 2013 WL 5009618 (D. Mass. Sept. 11, 2013). We affirm, rejecting Riley’s argument that this long-term disability plan must be analogized to an installment payment plan so as to alter the accrual date of his claim. In doing so, we join three other circuits. We also reject his claim that the plan documents here create a different accrual rule for him based on a principle of “symmetry” and reject his equitable arguments.

Read the full opinion here.

First Circuit Nominee Makes SCOTUS Farm Team List

The New Yorker examines the list of potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Their includes a nominee to the First Circuit Court of Appeals: David Barron.

David Barron, age forty-six, nominated to the First Circuit. Barron served as acting assistant attorney general during the first two years of the Obama Administration and is now a professor at Harvard Law School. His clerkships were with Stephen Reinhardt (a liberal favorite on the Ninth Circuit) and Justice John Paul Stevens; he has many fans in the White House, though the appointment of a white male would offer few political benefits. Barron’s nomination to the First Circuit has been approved by the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, and he has apparently been promised a vote in the full Senate before the mid-term elections. The invocation of the nuclear option—confirmation via a simple majority rather than the three-fifths vote formerly required to overcome a filibuster—should guarantee his appointment, which is obligatory if he is to be a Supreme Court nominee down the line.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has also been mentioned as a potential nominee to the highest Court in the land.

RI Bar Association Announces Openings for House of Delegates

J. Robert Weisberger, the President of the Rhode Island Bar Association,
sent out an invitation for attorneys to send letters of interest to join the House of Delegates.

Letters of Interest for our Bar’s House of Delegates (HOD), with a term of office from July 1, 2014- June 30, 2015, are due no later than Friday February 21, 2014. For those interested in becoming a member of the Bar’s Executive Committee and an eventual Bar officer, House of Delegates’ membership is a necessary first step. If you are interested in serving on the HOD, and if you have have not already done so, please send a letter of interest no later than February 21st. For information on House of Delegates Letters of Interest and the selection process, please click here.

This year, our Bar Association is seeking nominations for three annual Awards honoring our colleagues for their outstanding service to the profession and the community:

1) Ralph P. Semonoff Award for Professionalism;  

2) Florence K. Murray Award; and  

3) Victoria M. Almeida Servant Leader Award.

All three 2014 award nominations are due no later than Wednesday, March 5, 2014. For individual award information and nominating criteria, please click on the Award names above.