Personal Injury - Dog Bite
Our client, a college student of about nineteen, was working over the Christmas break when he was bitten in the face by his employer's dog. This attack was completely unprovoked, and came as a complete surprise to our client, who had previously had a friendly relationship with the dog. Our client had to undergo two surgeries to repair the damage, but still had scarring and numbness of the lip. Because we discovered that the dog had bitten before, and were able to track down the people who had been bitten, liability was 100%. After mediation, we obtained a settlement in the amount of $65,000. We also arranged for this young man to have most of this amount placed in a structured settlement program, so that he would be able to have a "nest egg" available to him for the future.
Unfair Debt Collection Practices
We filed suit on behalf of a client who had been repeatedly called and harassed at her workplace by bill collectors despite repeated requests that they refrain from doing so. This conduct was in blatant violation of the Fair Debt Collections Act. Shortly after we filed suit, the bill collectors stopped the phone calls -- and paid the client a settlement amounting to $6,500.00.
Our client, a school principal, was approaching retirement, but the State Retirement System was refusing to include various sums that he had earned when calculating his pension, in violation of the statutes regarding pension calculations. We brought an appeal to the Superior Court. Last summer, in a very strongly worded opinion, the Superior Court ordered that these sums be included in our client's pension calculations.
Employee Health Benefits
Our client found herself out of a job when she asked for sick leave in order to obtain emergency surgery. However, after she had her surgery, she discovered that her employer had retroactively cancelled her health insurance to about a month or so before she had been terminated. This left her in debt for thousands of dollars for her surgery. This office brought action against the employer. By way of settlement, the employer not only paid for the employee's entire medical bill, but also paid several thousand dollars by way of compensation for the stress she had endured.
A particular school district had a longstanding policy of excusing high school students from final examinations if they had an "A" average. Given that the final examination schedule was extremely grueling (two examinations per day, for three days in a row), this policy was a powerful incentive for students to perform well throughout the year. In addition, many students counted upon the possibility of being excused from some of their examinations when choosing whether to take five courses or six courses. Despite the fact that a number of students had made their programming selections based on this policy, the school district attempted to change this policy in the middle of the year. This office took on appeal on behalf of these students to the Commissioner of Education, and succeeded in preventing the school district from changing the rules in the middle of the game.
Our client had been a physical education teacher and a football coach in a local school district. After his retirement from teaching, he had retained his coaching position for several years. However, the school district summarily terminated him the day after football practices began. The district, and also the state retirement system, argued that he had been fired because under the new retirement statutes, a vacant position had to be offered to a non-retired teacher. We believed that because our client had been continuously employed in the coaching position, the position had never been vacant and the new statute did not apply to him. We brought an action in Superior Court, and succeeded in obtaining a judgment confirming that the new statute did not apply to our client.
- Our law office successfully represented a young plaintiff who had been severely injured when he fell down a flight of stairs in an urban apartment building. The apartment had been negligently maintained and the banister was fused to the wall preventing the plaintiff from having an adequate hand hold. The plaintiff suffered a complex fracture of his elbow and the matter was ultimately settled in excess of $100,000.00.
- Our law office represented a 78 year-old woman with a complicated medical background including a history of total knee replacements. The plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident, where she was caused to strike her knees into the dashboard. This resulted in a severe aggravation of her preexisting knee problems, ultimately resulting in several hospitalizations and multiple surgeries to repair the damaged components. Our office arbitrated the matter with the defendants insurance company, and obtained a verdict of $90,000.00.
- Our law office successfully represented a young woman who was injured in an automobile accident that initially presented as involving a "phantom driver". The plaintiff's vehicle was driven off the side of the road into the median, where it flipped over several times. The Plaintiff sustained very severe injuries and scarring, and ultimately underwent several surgeries to repair her injuries. Although the plaintiff was unable to observe the defendant's license plate, an extensive investigation was ultimately able to uncover several witnesses who did observe the defendant's license plate number. Though our investigation, we were ultimately able to determine who injured the plaintiff; and to locate the defendant and secure payment from his insurance company.
- Our law office successfully defended a local volunteer fire district in a wrongful death action based upon allegations that inadequate staffing led to fire related deaths. The decedent's family had claimed that because the fire district had chosen not to fund additional firefighter slots, that insufficient manpower contributed to the deadly blaze. Our attorneys focused their arguments on the various governmental and statutory immunities provided to rescue and fire personnel. The Court agreed with our office, and found that staffing was a discretionary governmental decision, and dismissed the case.
- Our law office successfully defended a local volunteer fire district in a wrongful termination claim. The plaintiff had alleged that he was promised certain benefits during the course of a job interview. The individual defendants had responded to the plaintiff's request by providing their interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement. When the plaintiff was found not eligible for the disputed benefits, he sued in Superior Court, alleging breach of contract and breach of promise. After a two-week trial in the Superior Court, our office was able to obtain a favorable verdict for the fire district and the individual defendants, convincing the jury that the mere statement of an opinion by a prospective employer does not rise to the level of a promise that can be sued upon.
Family Law/Domestic Relations
- Our law office successfully argued to the RI Supreme Court that sole custody was appropriate to the plaintiff mother, when the father had willfully subjected the minor child to age-inappropriate video games, and had refused to acknowledge that the child had well-documented allergies. Based on the father's obstinate manner in caring for the minor child and his failure to cooperate with the mother in making decisions that were in the best interest of the child, the Court agreed with our office's argument that joint custody was not justified. As a result, the Court awarded sole custody to the mother. The Court also rejected the defendant's argument that a de facto visitation schedule had arisen between the parties based upon their periodic deviation from a Court ordered schedule entered years prior. Our office was able to persuade the Court that regardless of the party's actions over the last several years, the only relevant issue is the best interest of the child at the present lime.
- Our law office successfully convinced the Court that a plaintiff mother should be able to relocate with the minor child out of state. The defendant father had obtained an ex-parry order allowing him temporary sole custody of the minor child and keeping the minor child in the State of Rhode Island. After hearing two weeks of testimony, the Family Court issued a decision that it was in the best interest of the child to be with the mother, out of state. The plaintiff mother had raised allegations of abuse by the father, and our office had presented extensive testimony about the benefits and advantages of the child's life in the new state.
- Our law office successfully litigated a multi-week trial involving child support. Our client, the defendant father, owned his own business and was alleged to be earning several hundred thousand dollars per year. Based upon extensive expert involvement in the case, our office was able to negotiate a settlement whereby the defendant father would pay significantly less money in child support based upon diminished earning projections for the father's company. Extensive testimony was presented to the Court, which was based upon varying positions by business evaluation experts. This favorable settlement was reached as a result of intensive negotiations over the course of many days, and after substantial testimony.
Our law office successfully represented two individuals who endured financial harm after their contract with a landowner was unlawfully breached. The defendant promised to sell property to the plaintiffs, confirmed by a Purchase and Sales agreement, and in reliance on that premise, the plaintiff's spent substantial funds making improvements to the property. The plaintiffs were misled by the defendant with respect to problems and defects that existed on the property, which were later discovered upon inspection. The defendant denied the plaintiffs access to the property when they attempted to obtain an estimate as to the cost of repair. The plaintiffs then terminated the agreement and demanded a return of their security deposit. The defendant wrongfully refused to return the deposit despite the substantial financial harm the plaintiffs endured as a result of the defendant's false promises and misrepresentations. Our office successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of the plaintiffs in which a considerable portion of the security deposit was rightfully returned to the injured party.