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Turdo v. Main

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

February 18, 2016

Rosario Turdo
v.
James Main.

Washington County Superior Court WC 11-0466 Associate Justice Kristin E. Rodgers

For Plaintiff: Stefanie DiMaio-Larivee, Esq.

For Defendant: Matthew R. Reilly, Esq., George J. Bauerle, III, Esq.

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

OPINION

William P. Robinson III Associate Justice

Rosario Turdo, the plaintiff, appeals from a March 10, 2014 judgment following a jury-waived trial in the Washington County Superior Court. The trial justice entered judgment in favor of James Main, the defendant, on the plaintiff's breach of contract claim and also entered judgment in favor of the defendant on his counterclaim for conversion. In addition, the plaintiff appeals from the May 5, 2014 denial of her motion for relief from the March 10, 2014 Superior Court judgment, which motion invoked Rule 60(b) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. This case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After a close review of the record and careful consideration of the parties' arguments (both written and oral), we are satisfied that cause has not been shown and that this appeal may be decided at this time. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

I Facts and Travel

On July 12, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that defendant was indebted to her in the amount of $17, 840. She alleged that she had "an agreement in regard to said sum which was signed on December 17, 2009 by James Main, the [d]efendant." On July 29, 2011, [1] Mr. Main filed a response and a counterclaim for $12, 050. On August 16, 2013, prior to trial, the parties agreed to a "Statement of Undisputed Facts." The statement stipulated to the following facts: (1) the parties had been "involved in a 'dating'/romantic relationship from 2007 to 2010;" (2)the parties entered into numerous agreements involving the exchange of funds and services; (3)plaintiff sold a truck to defendant for $11, 000; (4) defendant made payments to plaintiff with respect to the truck; (5) plaintiff "had [d]efendant return [the] vehicle to her on or about February 21, 2010 after contacting the police department of Westerly, Rhode Island;" and (6) plaintiff sold the truck in question for $10, 000. In the same document the parties agreed that a contract signed by both parties on June 5, 2009 would be admitted as a full exhibit at trial. That handwritten contract reads, in its entirety, as follows:

"Agreement between Rose Turdo [and] James Main "Ref: 2004 GMC Sierra 4X4 Black Pickup "VIN # 1GTHK29G74E292070
"Rose Turdo to remain owner until final payment received by 12-1-09 - $500.00 received as down payment 6-5-09. $150.00 per week to be paid each Friday until $11, 000 total received - First payment due 6-12-09.
"All repairs - parts - maintenance - expenses are the responsibility of James Main -
"Truck registration [and] Insurance [and] Title to remain under Rose Turdo with right to use. Upon default the truck remains the property of Rose Turdo without any reimbursement.
"Title to be released with Lean [sic] until previous debt of $10, 000 paid in full by 7-1-2010."

On August 27, 2013, a jury-waived trial was conducted. We relate below the salient aspects of what transpired at that trial.

A

The Testimony at Trial

1. The Testimony of Rosario Turdo

Rosario Turdo testified at trial that she began dating Mr. Main in April of 2007. She testified regarding a ledger she kept which reflected monies owed to her by Mr. Main and payments made to her by Mr. Main. It was Ms. Turdo's testimony on direct examination that she did not receive any payments from Mr. Main on the loan reflected in the above-referenced June 5, 2009 contract after November 9, 2009. She also testified that she had to have repairs costing $2, 038.86 done on the truck before its sale; she added that Mr. ...


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