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Cotsoridis v. Lueker

Superior Court of Rhode Island

January 30, 2015

ANTHONY COTSORIDIS, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM H. LUEKER, ESQ., in his Capacity as Deputy Chief of Legal Services/Hearing Officer, State of Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, and THOMAS AHERN, in his Capacity as Administrator, State of Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; and GO ORANGE LLC d/b/a ORANGE CAB OF NEWPORT, Defendants.

Providence County Superior Court

Plaintiff: Michael F. Horan, Esq.

For Defendant: Christy L. Hetherington, Esq. J. Russell Jackson, Esq.

DECISION

VAN COUYGHEN, J.

This case is before the Court on Anthony Cotsoridis' (Plaintiff) request for declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiff challenges the legality of the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers' (the Division) denial of his motion to intervene. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L.1956 § 9-30-1.

I

Facts and Travel

On October 23, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Request for Authority to Transfer a Taxicab Certificate with the Division. In his request, Plaintiff sought to acquire Certificate MCT-59 (the Certificate) from P&P, Inc. The Certificate authorizes six taxicabs in the assigned territory of Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, and Jamestown.[1] While Plaintiff's request for Authority to Transfer the Certificate was pending, Go Orange LLC d/b/a/ Orange Cab of Newport (Go Orange) applied for new authority to operate thirty-four taxicabs in Bristol, Jamestown, Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth (the Go Orange application). Since Plaintiff's pending application for the transfer of the Certificate concerned the same territory for which Go Orange was seeking its new certificate, Plaintiff moved to intervene in the pending Go Orange application pursuant to Rule 17 of the Division's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

On November 18, 2014, the Hearing Officer denied Plaintiff's Motion to Intervene. The Hearing Officer reasoned that since Plaintiff's request for transfer was still pending, he did not have "any existing interest in the taxicab industry . . . in Newport County such that his intervention is necessary or appropriate." As such, the Hearing Officer concluded that Plaintiff had failed to demonstrate a sufficient interest in the Go Orange application to intervene pursuant to Rule 17. Instead, the Hearing Officer welcomed Plaintiff to observe the hearing and to offer public comment, in keeping with Division Rule 18(c)(5).

Thereafter, on December 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief in accordance with § 9–30–1. Plaintiff also sought a writ of mandamus to compel the Division to grant his motion to intervene.[2]

II

Standard of Review

The Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act provides that this Court "shall have power to declare rights, status, and other legal relations whether or not further relief is or could be claimed." Sec. § 9–30–1. In this regard, "the Superior Court has broad discretion to grant or deny declaratory relief under the UDJA." Tucker Estates Charlestown, LLC v. Town of Charlestown, 964 A.2d 1138, 1140 (R.I. 2009).

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has stated that "[t]he obvious purpose of the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act is to facilitate the termination of controversies. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. E. W. Burman, Inc., 120 R.I. 841, 845, 391 A.2d 99, 101 (1978). Accordingly, "declaratory judgment statutes should be liberally construed; they should not be interpreted in a narrow or technical sense." Mille ...


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