RI Case Law Update

Be Careful What You Offer in Your Next Offer of Judgment!

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The Federal and most state rules of civil procedure contain an offer of judgment provision.  It allows a defendant to issue an “offer of judgment” to a plaintiff to settle the case.  It is designed to create a pause with the plaintiff to assess her case and decide whether she wants to proceed forward with the litigation or resolve it.  The purpose of the rule is to encourage prompt and early resolution of disputes.  A defendant utilizing the rule has an incentive to make a realistic offer that is inclusive of accrued interest and other litigation expenses (such as attorney’s fees where there is a fee shifting provision).  If an offer of judgment is not accepted, it potentially creates a cost shifting provision in favor of the defendant if the plaintiff does not recover an amount greater than the amount offered.  It also sets up an opportunity for the defendant to assert that no attorney’s fees should be

A Certain Degree of Control Could Save You From Suit

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Here is the fact scenario:  A contractor employs certain employees that are union members or employees that have a tendency to “roam” and/or be “loaned”—i.e. the employee technically works for one entity, but also performs work for another affiliated company.  The employee is injured while working for the affiliated entity and not his actual employer.  The employee collects workers compensation insurance benefits from his actual employer and then tries to file suit against the affiliated company.

Question:  Is the employee entitled to collect workers compensation benefits from his actual employer, and then file a lawsuit to collect damages from the affiliated company?

Answer: Not according to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

In Selby v. Baird, the plaintiff arrived at a residential home to begin his job as the foreman of a tree removal crew for a tree removal company.  While the crew was setting up their equipment at the job site,

Claims against RIDOT – Important Judicial Decisions in 2019

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The Rhode Island Superior Court came down with a few interesting decisions this year concerning Rhode Island General Law Section 37-13.1-1.  That statute deals with actions against the State of Rhode Island on Highway and Public Works contracts.  The statute provides in part:

  • 37-13.1-1. Suits allowed – Jurisdiction – Statute of limitations – Procedure.   (a) Any person, firm, or corporation which is awarded a contract subsequent to July 1, 1977, with the state of Rhode Island, acting through any of its departments, commissions, or other agencies, for the design, construction, repair, or alteration of any state highway, bridge, or public works other than those contracts which are covered by the public works arbitration act may, in the event of any disputed claims under the contract, bring an action against the state of Rhode Island in the superior court for Providence county for the purpose of having the claims determined, provided notice of the general nature of the claims shall have been given

Additional Insurance Coverage: Fundamentals and Misconceptions

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Additional insured (“AI”) requirements for commercial general liability (CGL) policies are very common in construction contracts.  An Owner routinely requires its general contractor (“GC”) to provide AI coverage for itself, its affiliates, and sometimes a handful of other entities (lender, architect, etc.).  In turn, the GC mandates its subcontractors to provide AI coverage for the GC, the Owner, and a cast of other characters.  While frequently used, for good reason, this risk transfer tool is often misunderstood.  In this post, I will explain the purpose of AI coverage, identify what it does and does not cover, and provide answers to a few misconceptions about additional insured coverage.

The Purpose of Additional Insured Coverage

The design of AI coverage is to trigger the insurance procured by lower-tier contractors.  The Owner, GC, and subcontractors all have CGL insurance, but the goal of additional insured coverage is to make sure that someone else’s insurer will be on the hook to provide defense and indemnity should