Category Archives: RI Courts

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.

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.