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.

RIAJ Presents: A View from the Bench

The Rhode Island Association for Justice is presenting their annual event – A View from the Bench – on Thursday, February 6th from 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the Omni Providence Hotel.  Details are available on their website here.

The featured panelists at the event are as follows:

  • Chief Judge William E. Smith  United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island
  • The Honorable Francis X. Flaherty  RI Supreme Court
  • The Honorable Susan E. McGuirl  RI Superior Court
  • The Honorable Sandra A. Lanni  RI Family Court

The mission of RIAJ is to preserve the constitutional right to trial by jury, strengthen the civil justice system through education, safeguard consumers’ rights, promote the public good through efforts to secure safe products, a safe workplace, a clean environment, and quality health care, and uphold and defend the constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Rhode Island.