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Moreau v. Shine

Superior Court of Rhode Island

February 21, 2017

CHARLES MOREAU, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLAN M. SHINE, ET AL., Defendants.

         Providence County Superior Court

          For Plaintiff: John O. Mancini, Esq.

          For Defendant: Matthew T. Jerzyk, Esq., Theodore Orson, Esq.

          DECISION

          SILVERSTEIN, J.

         Before the Court are movants' Mayor Charles Moreau (Mayor) and the members of the Central Falls City Council (City Council)[1]-collectively referred to as the Elected Officials-Motions for Entry of Judgment. The Elected Officials request that this Court enter an order of judgment entitling them to indemnification from the State of Rhode Island (State) for their costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees-including those of the City Council's attorney, Lawrence L. Goldberg-generated from this lawsuit. The Rhode Island Department of Revenue, on behalf of the State, opposes the Elected Officials' Motions.

         I Facts and Travel

         The facts of this well-traveled case are familiar to this Court. For both the sake of brevity and the purpose of deciding whether to grant or deny the Elected Officials' Motions, only a brief discussion of the procedural posture of this case is necessary. A far more detailed discussion of the facts and travel preceding the matter at bar is provided in prior opinions of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and decisions of this Court. See Shine v. Moreau, 119 A.3d 1, 4-5 (R.I. 2015); Moreau v. Flanders, 15 A.3d 565, 570-73 (R.I. 2011); Pfeiffer v. Moreau, Nos. PB-2010-5615, PB-2010-5672, 2010 WL 4156173 (R.I. Super. Oct. 18, 2010) (Silverstein, J.).

         On June 18, 2015, the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued its opinion in Shine v. Moreau, 119 A.3d 1, remanding the case[2] to this Court. Less than a month later, in early July of 2015, the Mayor moved for entry of final judgment, seeking indemnification for the costs and legal fees he incurred in challenging the constitutionality of the Financial Stability Act, G.L. 1956 §§ 45-9-1 et seq. Shortly thereafter, the City Council followed suit, similarly moving for entry of judgment and incorporating the Mayor's memorandum by reference. However, due to the City of Central Falls' pending issues in the Bankruptcy Court for this district, this Court stayed the proceedings regarding the Motions for Entry of Judgment. In November of 2015, the Bankruptcy Court issued an order resolving those pending issues, freeing this Court to consider the Elected Officials' Motions. Following the Bankruptcy Court's order, the Elected Officials renewed their Motions for Entry of Judgment on June 21, 2016. After receiving memoranda from the Elected Officials and the State and conducting an appropriate hearing, the Court issues this Decision.

         The Elected Officials have moved to compel the State to indemnify their costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees resulting from the years-long lawsuit regarding the constitutionality and implementation of the Financial Stability Act, which essentially displaced the Mayor and the City Council in favor of the Receiver. During that time, the Elected Officials served in a mere advisory role to the Receiver, at his discretion. In challenging the Financial Stability Act, the Elected Officials have undoubtedly incurred considerable costs; they now move to recover those costs, including attorneys' fees, from the Receiver who, according to the Elected Officials, is a State official. Thus, the procedural posture of this case is as follows: the Elected Officials have moved for entry of judgment seeking indemnification from the State; the State, through the Department of Revenue, objects.

         II Standard of Review

         When a case is remanded from our Supreme Court, this Court is bound to follow the mandates contained in the opinion of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Pleasant Mgmt., LLC v. Carrasco, 960 A.2d 216, 223 (R.I. 2008). This is known as the "mandate rule"-a rule that the Rhode Island Supreme Court has summarized in this way:

"'When a case has been once decided by [the Rhode Island Supreme Court] on appeal, and remanded to the [Superior Court], whatever was before [the Rhode Island Supreme Court], and disposed of by its decree, is considered as finally settled. The [Superior Court] is bound by the decree as the law of the case, and must carry it into execution according to the mandate. That court cannot vary it, or examine it for any other purpose than execution; or give any other or further relief; or review it, even for apparent error, upon any matter decided on appeal; or intermeddle with it, further than to settle so much as has been remanded. . . . But the [Superior Court] may consider and decide any matters left open by the mandate of [the Rhode Island Supreme Court].'" Sisto v. Am. Condo. Ass'n, Inc., 140 A.3d 124, 128 (R.I. 2016) (quoting Pleasant Mgmt., LLC, 960 A.2d at 223).

         Per the mandate rule, when the Rhode Island Supreme Court issues an opinion, that opinion "'speak[s] forthrightly and not by suggestion or innuendo, '" meaning that this Court is not free to "'read between the lines'" of the opinion's plain language. Pleasant Mgmt., LLC, 960 ...


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