Tag Archives: RI Federal Court

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.


Judge William Smith is new Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island

The US District Court for the District of Rhode Island announced this week that, effective December 1, 2013, Judge William E. Smith assumes the position of Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

Chief Judge Smith succeeds Judge Mary M. Lisi, who served as Chief Judge from December 1, 2006 through November 30, 2013. By statute, the chief judge is the most senior active district judge who is under 65 years of age and who has not previously served as chief judge. The term of service is seven (7) years. Judge Lisi will remain in active service on the Court.

The chief judge has a leadership role in court management and exercises authority and responsibility to act and speak on behalf of the other district judges in a wide range of management and operational matters.

The Rhode Island Chapter of the Federal Bar Association is hosting a reception to honor the dedication and service of Judge Lisi as she completes her tenure and to congratulate Judge Smith as he begins his term as Chief Judge on Friday, December 13, 2013 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm in the Maxwell Mays gallery of the Providence Art Club. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Treasurer Andrew Richardson, Esq. at Andy@bhrlaw.com

Federal Judge Denies Hotel’s Attempt to Stay Arbitration Order Pending Appeal

RI Lawyers Weekly profiles a recent case of mine involving the validity and arbitrability of a card check neutrality agreement signed between UNITE HERE Local 217 and the operator of the Renaissance Hotel, Sage Hospitality.

An order requiring a hotel to arbitrate a dispute with a union could not be stayed after the hotel filed an appeal, a U.S. District Court judge has ruled.

The hotel argued that a stay was necessary because its appeal could be rendered moot should the hotel be ordered to comply with the arbitration order.

But Judge William E. Smith disagreed.

“[W]hile the Hotel has articulated a plausible theory of irreparable harm, it has not persuaded the Court that the damage it foresees will actually come to pass,” the judge said.

The 20-page decision is UNITE HERE Local 217 v. Sage Hospitality Resources, Lawyers Weekly No. 52-030-10. The full text of the ruling can be found by clicking here.

Providence attorneys Amato A. DeLuca and Matthew A. Jerzyk represented the union. They were opposed by Providence attorney Moshe S. Berman and Maryland attorneys Louis J. Cannon Jr. and Norman R. Buchsbaum.

Anti-Marriage Equality Forces Sue to Overturn RI Campaign Finance Laws

Scott MacKay has the scoop on anti-marriage equality forces attempting to dismantle RI’s campaign finance laws:

Now comes the National Organization for Marriage, the anti-gay marriage group, which has gone to federal court to throw out Rhode Island’s campaign finance disclosure laws. This would give them the right to spend thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, to influence our elections and the General Assembly without saying where this money comes from.

This group asserts that its First Amendment Free Speech rights are curbed by the requirement that it disclose its contributors. The lawyer for the anti-gay marriage group is James Bopp, a member of the Republican National Committee. He has sued other states to get rid of campaign finance laws in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case which ruled that unlimited amounts of corporate money can be spent to influence elections.

Now Bopp and some of the groups he represents are on a crusade against state campaign finance laws. In his argument against our laws, Bopp asserts that Rhode Island just wants to “run everybody through the wringer’’ of complicated campaign disclosure laws to drive some groups away from participation in politics. (Bopp, a member of the Republican National Committee is the lawyer hired by Governor Carcieri in 2007 to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the Rhode Island Supreme Court supporting the governor’s position against gay marriage in a divorce case involving a lsbian couple married in Massachusetts.)

Station Fire Evidence on track to be Destroyed

The Providence Journal reports that Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux has approved the destruction of more than 700 pieces of evidence recovered from the site of the Station nightclub fire and the closure of the Cranston warehouse where all of the items have been stored for the past seven years.

No decision has yet been made as to where, when or how the evidence will be destroyed or what the cost will be. But the costs of the destruction will be borne 50/50 by the victims of the fire and the defendants who contributed to a $176-million settlement of the personal-injury cases filed in the wake of the catastrophic blaze. One hundred people died as a result of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire on Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick, and more than 200 were injured. It was the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.

Some of the fire victims have expressed a desire to tour the warehouse at 225 Macklin St. before the evidence is removed from the site, but it is unclear whether they will be allowed to do so.

In approving the closure of the evidence warehouse, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux said in a written order that he would maintain jurisdiction over the repository “until such time as it is fully closed and the evidence destroyed, and all costs are paid by all parties responsible for the maintenance of the warehouse.” The site has cost $2,500 per month to rent. The plaintiffs and defendants have equally split that expense. The victims’ share has been subtracted from their settlement checks.

$1.5 Million Verdict in Kugel Mesh Lawsuit

RI Lawyers Weekly reports that a U.S. District Court jury has awarded $1.5 million to a married couple for injuries they suffered as a result of a hernia repair patch.

Christopher and Laure Thorpe were awarded $1.3 million for personal injury damages and $200,000 for loss of consortium.

The case, Thorpe v. Davol, Inc. et al., was the second case to go to trial out of thousands of cases filed against Davol Inc., the manufacturer of the Composix Kugel Mesh hernia patch, and its parent company, C.R. Bard.

The verdict came after an earlier case in which the jury found the same defendants negligent in the design of the hernia patch.

The plaintiffs argued before Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi that Christopher Thorpe suffered severe internal injuries caused by a broken plastic ring on the hernia repair mesh. He required multiple surgeries as a result of his injuries.

The jury found that the defendants acted unreasonably in designing the patch and were negligent in failing to provide adequate warning or instruction for the product. The jury also found that the defendants’ negligence proximately caused Laure Thorpe’s physical and emotional suffering due to the loss of consortium of her husband.

The plaintiffs were represented in the case by lead counsel Donald A. Migliori of Motley Rice in Providence and co-counsel Ernie Cory of Birmingham, Ala.-based Cory, Watson, Crowder & DeGaris.

You can learn more about the Kugel Mesh lawsuit by clicking here.

Federal Lawsuit Seeks to End Master Party Lever in Rhode Island

The Providence Journal is reporting that Bob Healey, an independent candidate for lieutenant governor, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Wednesday seeking to abolish the straight-party voting option on Rhode Island’s ballot for November and all subsequent elections.

Healey is one of 11 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which names Governor Carcieri, A. Ralph Mollis, secretary of state, members of the state’s Board of Elections and the heads of the state’s Republican, Democratic and Moderate parties as defendants. Among the plaintiffs is Republican Warwick Mayor Scott Avedesian.

U.S. District Judge William E. Smith has set a hearing for Aug. 5 at 9 a.m.

The plaintiffs are alleging that Rhode Island’s continued use of the straight-party ticket option that records votes by optic scanning is unconstitutional and should be eliminated. “The use of the party lever in conjunction with optic scanning technology has created several discernable and distorted voting patterns,” the lawsuit alleges. “Using the optic scan ballot, no marks are visible as to the vote cast in each race. As a result, communities that hold nonpartisan elections demonstrate a marked decline in civic participation, showing that voters often fail to cast votes in nonpartisan municipal contests, mistakenly believing that the party lever has triggered votes in all races.”