Joseph Hall et al.
City of Newport et al.
County Superior Court, NC 07-243, Associate Justice Walter R.
Plaintiffs: Sol Cohen, Pro Hac Vice Gordon P. Cleary, Esq.
Defendants: Lori C. Silveira, Esq., Kenneth M. Sambour, Esq.
Marc Desisto, Esq.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and
WILLIAM P. ROBINSON ASSOCIATE JUSTICE.
plaintiffs, Joseph Hall, his wife, Marilyn Hall, and their
children, Jacob and Philomena Hall (the Halls), appeal from
the April 16, 2015 entry of partial final judgment (entered
pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil
Procedure) in favor of the defendant, Rhode Island Public
Transit Authority (RIPTA),  in Newport County Superior Court.
The partial final judgment was entered as a result of the
Superior Court's granting of the defendant's motion
for summary judgment. 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.
reasons set forth in this opinion, we vacate the judgment of
the Superior Court.
to plaintiffs' first amended complaint, in March of 2003,
Leon Budlong, a bus driver in RIPTA's employ, claimed
that he was assaulted while on his Ruggles Avenue bus route.
Over a year after the assault, Mr. Budlong identified Mr.
Hall as his attacker for the first time. Mr. Hall was
ultimately acquitted by a jury in the Newport County Superior
Court after appealing thereto for a de novo trial
following his conviction in District Court. According to the
first amended complaint in the instant case, Mr.
Budlong's bus route went by the Halls' home on
Ruggles Avenue in Newport "some thirty-two * * * times
each day." Mr. Budlong was assigned to that bus route
during all times pertinent to this case. The plaintiffs
alleged, in their first amended complaint, that Mr. Budlong
"embarked on a pattern of harassment of the Halls"
in 2004, after identifying Mr. Hall as his alleged attacker.
plaintiffs' attorney sent two letters to RIPTA informing
them of the alleged harassment by Mr. Budlong-one letter
being dated September 22, 2005 and the second letter being
dated November 14, 2005. In his first letter, the Halls'
attorney stated the following:
"One of your trolley drivers, Leon Budlong has engaged
in a long series of harassing actions against my clients. My
clients have had to resort to the Superior Court to obtain a
restraining order against Mr. Budlong, which remains in
"After an extended absence, Mr. Budlong returned to the
route which includes Ruggles Avenue on September 1, 2005 and
his harassment of the Halls has escalated.
"This all culminated on Saturday, September 17, 2005
when Mr. Budlong drove his trolley bus up to the Halls'
residence, stopped, and took a picture of Mrs. Hall in her
"The Halls have had it with Mr. Budlong and demand that
you remove him from this route to prevent any further
harassment of them by Mr. Budlong, which would have serious
implications for RIPTA."
no response was received, Mrs. Hall herself then sent a
letter to RIPTA (the third written communication to that
entity) on November 28, 2005. In that letter she stated that
she was "in fear" for her children, herself, and
her husband. She added that Mr. Budlong had "devastated
our family by his aggravated, out-of-control
harassments." RIPTA's response came on December 9,
2005. It stated that RIPTA had investigated the matter, and
then it provided as follows:
"You have indicated that you would like RIPTA to change
Mr. Budlong's route. Please be advised that routes are
assigned to drivers pursuant to a detailed process set forth
in the collective bargaining agreement ...