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Judicial Reform States Rhode Island

Rhode Island Supreme Court

Pro Government
Total Judgeships: 

5 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 

Non-Partisan

Location(s): 
Providence
Caseload: 

370

Recent Cases

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decided

Duty of Care Between Adults

Fri, 06/27/2014

Phelps v. Hebert: At a party, Hebert arrived with an ATV on which Phelps’ daughter wanted a ride and voluntarily mounted. Herbert requested that Ashley wear a helmet, which she declined. Hebert crashed the ATV leading to Ashley’s death. Phelps filed suit against Herbert on grounds that Herbert owed Phelps a duty of care.

Decision

The Supreme Court of Rhode Island ruled in favor of Hebert, affirming the decisions of the lower court. The Court ruled that Herbert did not own Ashley a duty of care because Ashley was an adult who made the independent decision to ride the ATV without a helmet.

Read the full decision here
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Is Dog Attacking Mailman Foreseeable?

Mon, 06/16/2014

Coogan v. Nelson: Coogan is a UPS driver who was attacked by a vicious dog while delivering a package to Nelson’s home. The dog was Nelson’s and Coogan filed suit against Nelson for negligence in failing to secure the dog. The superior court granted summary judgment to Nelson on the grounds that the dog’s viciousness was unforeseeable.

Decision

The Supreme Court of Rhode Island reversed the decision of the lower court, ruling in favor of Coogan. The Court deemed that based on the evidence presented in court, that Nelson’s dog’s vicious propensity was foreseeable and that Nelson had a responsibility to restrain the dog even though the nature of the UPS driver’s job places him in foreseeable harm. The case was remanded for further proceedings and damage compensation assessment.

Read the full decision here
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Parental Rights Terminated Based on Subjective Elements

Fri, 05/16/2014

In re Lyric P.: Lyric was born to a mother and father who were both incarcerated at the time of his birth. He was placed in a foster home and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) filed a petition to terminate both of the parents’ parental rights. The father actively testified to keep his rights, stating that he would be released soon, has employment lined up, and sincerely wishes to care for his son.

Decision

The Supreme Court of Rhode Island upheld the ruling of the lower courts by affirming the termination of the father’s parental rights over Lyric. The father’s rights were terminated on the grounds that Lyric had adjusted well to foster care and that the foster parent wished to adopt to him and has proven that they can provide the care necessary for Lyric’s slow development struggles. On this basis, the father’s rights were terminated.

Read the full decision here