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Curreri v. Saint

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

December 8, 2015

Cathleen E. Curreri
v.
Robert B. Saint et al.

Washington County Superior Court, WC12-613, Associate Justice Kristin E. Rodgers

For Plaintiff: Gregory P. Sorbello, Esq.

For Defendant: Elizabeth A. Bourke, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

OPINION

FRANCIS X. FLAHERTY ASSOCIATE JUSTICE.

The plaintiff, Cathleen Curreri, appeals from an entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, Robert and Linda Saint. The plaintiff contends that the hearing justice erred when she granted the defendants' motion in limine to exclude a settlement stipulation that had entered in a prior District Court trespass and eviction action between the parties. The plaintiff argues that the hearing justice should have taken judicial notice of the stipulation and that summary judgment was not appropriate in this case. The matter came before this Court on November 3, 2015, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised by this appeal should not summarily be decided. After considering counsels' oral and written arguments, and after a thorough review of the record, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown and that this case can be decided without further briefing or argument. For the reasons given below, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

I

Facts and Travel

There is no serious dispute about the facts of this case. The defendants Robert and Linda Saint own a house that Cathleen Curreri rented from them. According to Curreri, the Saints allowed mold to grow in the house, rendering it uninhabitable and damaging her furniture, clothing, and other personal property. Curreri was also in arrears with her rent. As a result, the Saints filed an eviction action against her in the District Court. Eventually, the parties settled the eviction action by filing a stipulation that was signed by all parties and the District Court judge. The stipulation provided that:

"The parties agree that[:]
"1) Landlords shall have possession provided that they A) waive any right to any balance that may be due, B) hire SERVPRO of Westerly to professionally remove inventory, remediate tenant's property – in coordination with her, and to indicate which property cannot be remediated that must be replaced.
"2) Tenant shall provide a list with any receipts for damages resulting from the mold under the landlord's insurance.
"3) That this matter shall be dismissed with prejudice with regard to past-due rent."

However, Curreri was not satisfied that the Saints had kept their end of the bargain and claimed that they had simply put her mold-laden personal property in a storage container outside the home. For that reason, she filed a negligence action in Superior Court, alleging that the Saints failed to maintain the house free from toxic mold and fungus. She also ...


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