The Providence Superior Court justice granted the Defendant Town Of Lincoln’s motion for summary judgment in favor of the defendant town of Lincoln*. The RI Supreme Court affirmed the lower Court ruling determining that two legal notices sent by the injured victim’s lawyers were defective under RI law which according to the Court was clear and well established precedent. The victim asserted that ““the street collapsed under her, causing her to fall into a large sinkhole.” She claimed serious injury and faulted the town of Lincoln for improper maintenance which caused a “hazardous condition” Maria Carbone :v. :John Ward, in his capacity as Finance Director for the Town of Lincoln et al. No. 2011-276-Appeal.
Lawsuit against RI town
The Providence Superior Court Judge believed that 2 attempts to give notice by two different RI personal injury attorneys were both defective and did not meet the statutory and common law requirements. In layman’s terms, the victims claims for compensation for injuries as a result of a premises liability fall were dismissed on a legal technicality resulting from lack of proper notice. The Providence Superior Court Justice ruled in favor of the defendant’s determining that two different Rhode Island slip and fall attorneys for the injured victim failed to comply with RI Negligence Law by giving proper notice to the town of Lincoln (The Second notice was given by Plaintiff’s current RI appellate Injury lawyer as an amended notice.) Id.
Shame on these RI injury lawyers
(Editor’s notes: C’mon Man! Established RI common law interpreting Rhode Island Statutes is clear that proper notice must be given. Shame on these Rhode Island tort lawyer’s for not properly reading and or interpreting clear RI precedent concerning notice to a town for premises liability injury. And then there is an amended notice and the amended notice gets it wrong, again. Pathetic, actually! Somebody, may be checking their legal malpractice policies?)
Certainly, this lower court decision was not on the merits of the injured victim’s cause of action. It is unclear whether the victim broke a bone, fractured a wrist or the extent of her injuries. The plaintiff appealed this decision to the highest Court in Rhode Island sitting in Providence, the RI Supreme Court.
RI Supreme Court speaks
The RI Top Court, affirmed the decision of the motion justice. The top court rejected both notices asserting that “Our precedent is clear.” as to notice required when someone is injured on a sidewalk, highway, street or other area in a town or city in Rhode Island. Id. “[p]laintiff‟s notice did not fix the location in a [reasonably] sufficient manner.” The statute clearly and unambiguously requires that the notice of claim must be specific, therefore the notice in the case at bar must be deemed insufficient.” Id. ““[W]hen a notice of claim fails to provide substantial certainty about the time and place of the injury and the character and nature of the defect that caused it, a suit for failure to maintain the property cannot be preserved.” Id. Prout, 996 A.2d at 1143. Id.
As a result of the appellate win by the town of Lincoln’s premises liability lawyers’, the Plaintiff never got her day in court to prove that the town of Lincoln was negligent and such failure of due care caused her injuries.
“On April 3, 2008, plaintiff sent a notice of claim to the town for injuries she sustained on March 31, 2008, alleging that “the street collapsed under her, causing her to fall into a large sinkhole.” The place of incident was described as a “[s]idewalk and street outside of the Coventry Credit Union at the corner of Railroad Street and Summer Street.” The notice stated that plaintiff “sustained serious personal injury due to this incident” and faulted defendants “for failure to properly maintain said area, resulting in a hazardous condition which injured Ms. Carbone.” On April 11, 2008, plaintiff sent a second notice, indicating that the injury occurred when she fell in a hole “on Winter Street parallel to Railroad Street in the Town of Lincoln/Manville, Rhode Island.” The record reflects that the notice of April 3, 2008, which was sent by plaintiff’s first attorney, may have been incorrect; the April 11, 2008 notice was sent by plaintiff’s second—and current—attorney.” Id.
“(a) A person so injured or damaged shall, within sixty (60) days, give to the town by law obliged to keep the highway, causeway, or bridge in repair, notice of the time, place, and cause of the injury or damage; and if the town does not make just and due satisfaction, within the time prescribed by § 45-15-5, the person shall, within three (3) years after the date of the injury or damage, commence his or her action against the town treasurer for the recovery of damages, and not thereafter.”” “The statutory duty of municipalities to maintain all highways located within their borders“extends to sidewalks contiguous thereto.” Town of Lincoln v. State, 712 A.2d 357, 358 (R.I.1998); see also Barroso v. Pepin, 106 R.I. 502, 508, 261 A.2d 277, 280 (1970) (“It appears to be well settled in this state that the liability of a municipality to keep its sidewalks safe is established by statute.”). Id.
RI Supreme Court reasoning:
The Rhode Island Supreme Court quashed plaintiff’s Personal Injury Premises Liability claim when it ruled “Our precedent is clear. In this case, plaintiff failed accurately to describe the place of injury. The first notice incorrectly described a “[s]idewalk and street outside of the Coventry Credit Union at the corner of Railroad Street and Summer Street.” The second notice stated that plaintiff fell in a hole “on Winter Street parallel to Railroad Street in the Town of Lincoln / Manville, Rhode Island.” Although the statute does not require “complete accuracy,” this notice is deficient in more than one respect and neither the first nor the second notice identifies the location of the defect in a reasonably sufficient manner.” Id.
Read also: Prout v. City of Providence, 996 A.2d 1139 (R.I. 2010) Supreme Court of Rhode Island *(Lincoln is near Cumberland, Central falls, Pawtucket, Providence Woonsocket and North Smithfield)
Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.