PRACTICE
Summary of Experience

We have broad litigation experience in federal and state courts, including related appellate and administrative proceedings, arbitration proceedings, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, in the following substantive areas: contract and business tort; unfair competition, including copyright and trademark litigation and registration; federal constitutional and statutory claims, including litigation under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983; defamation; lender liability actions; federal and state environmental law, including claims under CERCLA and its state-law counterparts; construction litigation, employment termination and discrimination; bankruptcy litigation; and class action litigation.

Representative Cases

We represent a neighborhood organization whose responsibility it is to remediate hazardous waste in the soil of more than one hundred residential properties. In connection with that work, the neighborhood was sued by one of its remediation contractors on a theory of unjust enrichment, among others. The contractor claimed that it should be compensated for removing contaminated soil in excess of the quantity contemplated at the outset of the project. The Superior Court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the neighborhood organization: the contractor could not recover for unjust enrichment in the face of a fixed-price agreement.

We also represent a service provider in an action against the Narragansett Indian Tribe. The plaintiff provided services to the Tribe over a period of eight years under the terms of two engagement agreements. In a motion to dismiss the case, the Tribe argued that the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the Tribe enjoyed sovereign immunity. The district court rejected the Tribe's contention finding that it had waived its immunity for the purposes of any dispute with the plaintiff respecting the subject services. The Tribe's motion for reconsideration was also rejected.

We represent the former owner of a hazardous waste site in connection with an ongoing effort of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to force the former owner and other potentially responsible parties to accept responsibility for response costs at the site in accordance with the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and its state-law counterpart.

Some of our past cases include representing a precast-concrete manufacturer in connection with the multi-count complaint of a product purchaser alleging manufacturing defects. The purchaser's central contention was that the products developed alkali-silica reaction as a consequence of the concrete mix design selected by the parties. A three-member panel of the American Arbitration Association was selected to hear the case. After extensive discovery and the exchange of expert reports, the case was settled shortly prior to the start of evidentiary hearings.

We also represented a marine contractor in connection with claims arising from construction of a marina expansion and improvements on Block Island. The owner declined to meet its contract obligations, contending that several components of the work had not been performed in a workmanlike manner. The case was tried before a single arbitrator under the rules of the American Arbitration Association. In the end, the arbitrator issued an initial award decidedly in favor of the marine contractor as to the merits of the controversy, followed by a supplemental award requiring the owner to pay the contractor's attorneys' fees and costs.

We served as counsel to the Chief Operating Officer of a Massachusetts-based, non-profit organization who had been summarily suspended based on charges of sexual harassment made by a female department head. After investigation, the case was presented to the organization's board of directors which voted to reinstate the COO.

We provided counsel to a former Rhode Island Secretary of State in litigation instituted by the then Attorney General of the State to prevent a casino-gambling referendum from appearing on the November 2004 statewide ballot.

We defended a northeastern highway and bridge contractor in connection with a $4 million fraud and breach of contract claim arising out of the sale of the contractor's former plant and adjacent land. On the eve of trial, the case was settled.

We served as counsel to the owner of a thirty-acre landfill in a challenge to RIDEM's decision not to renew the owner's operating license. After lengthy administrative hearings, RIDEM's decision was affirmed. In an appeal to the Rhode Island Superior Court, however, the administrative decision was reversed on the ground that RIDEM exceeded its regulatory authority. The Rhode Island Supreme Court rejected RIDEM appeal, affirmed the decision of the Superior Court, and reinstated the owner's license.

We represented a partner in a Providence law firm in connection with an effort by the United States Trustee to hold the partner in civil contempt for participation as counsel in the sale of real estate in alleged violation of the automatic-stay provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Before trial, the contempt claim was dismissed with prejudice pursuant to a settlement agreement.

We also represented a publicly traded drug distributor in connection with an effort, grounded in the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to forestall a tender offer by a management group. The District Court issued an injunction against the offeror permitting the company to entertain the offers of third-party suitors. In the end, the shareholders approved one such suitor and realized value greater than that offered by the management group.

We provided counsel to a Providence hospital in connection with the acquisition of adjacent municipal land and buildings. The hospital intervened in an action challenging the city's right to sell the property. The trial court sustained the sale to the hospital. On appeal, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed.

We served as counsel to a northeastern bank in a challenge to the prepayment-penalty provisions of the bank's loan agreement with a multi-state manufacturing firm. The trial court rejected the borrower's challenge. On appeal, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed. The case established the legitimacy of bargained-for, prepayment-penalty clauses in commercial loans governed by Rhode Island law.

We represented Rhode Island's public transit authority in a federal class action under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiff class sought to require the authority to limit its acquisition of new buses to wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Such a requirement would have increased acquisition costs substantially with no evidence to suggest that wheelchair-confined persons would increase their limited use of fixed-route buses. The District Court granted the relief sought. On appeal, the First Circuit reversed, holding that federal law did not require the affirmative action inherent in the District Court's judgment.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

We are available to act as mediators and arbitrators for cases within our areas of expertise.

 



 

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