County Superior Court (PC 13-5955) Associate Justice Richard
Plaintiff: David Lynch, Pro Se
Defendants: Patricia A. Buckley, Esq. Audra L. Medeiros, Esq.
Tracy M. Waugh, Esq. Kara Thorvaldsen, Esq.
Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia,
Lynch appeals pro se from a December 15, 2014
judgment of the Superior Court, which memorializes that
court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the
defendants, First Horizon Home Loans (First Horizon) and
Safeguard Properties, LLC (Safeguard).
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
herein, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.
November 22, 2013, plaintiff filed a complaint against First
Horizon and Safeguard alleging that he and Natividad Mercedes
were joint owners of property located at 120 Vandewater
Street in Providence (the Vandewater property). Ms. Mercedes
was not named as a plaintiff in the complaint, nor did she
sign that pleading. For present purposes, the most relevant
allegation in plaintiff's complaint is the following:
"On January 19, 2011, Safeguard Properties, LLC [a
property maintenance company], on behalf of, and at the
instruction by, First Horizon Home Loans [a home loan finance
institution, which held a mortgage on the Vandewater
property], unlawfully entered [the] property, without notice,
right nor with authority of law, and ousted plaintiff and
[his] family, caused physical damage to said property, and
unlawfully withheld possession from plaintiff."
complaint further alleged that plaintiff "has been
deprived of rental income and profits, has been caused to
suffer damages, [and] has been deprived of property without
due process of law * * *."
plaintiff moved to file an amended complaint in order to have
his wife, whom he identified as Natividad Mercedes, joined as
a plaintiff in the action. At the conclusion of a hearing on
December 8, 2014, the motion justice denied plaintiff's
motion to amend; he did so in reliance on G.L. 1956 §
11-27-2(3),  stating that plaintiff (a non-lawyer)
could neither commence an action on behalf of his wife nor
represent her in the instant matter. At that same hearing on
December 8, the motion justice granted defendants' motion
for summary judgment, stating that, "[t]he Court finds
that the plaintiff, Mr. Lynch, who is married to Miss
Mercedes, never had legal title to this property, and as
such, the issues alleged in his complaint * * * he has no
right to bring."
appeal from a grant of summary judgment is reviewed de
novo. Shine v. Moreau, 119 A.3d 1, 7 (R.I.
2015). If we conclude "that there is no genuine issue of
material fact to be decided and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law, we will affirm the
grant of summary judgment." Peerless Insurance Co.
v. Luppe, 118 A.3d 500, 505 (R.I. 2015) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The party opposing summary judgment
"bears the burden of proving by competent evidence the
existence of a disputed issue of material fact and cannot
rest upon mere allegations or denials in the pleadings, mere
conclusions or mere legal opinions." Great American
E & S Insurance Co. v. End Zone Pub & Grill of
Narragansett, Inc., 45 A.3d 571, 574 (R.I. 2012)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
not go into great detail about the merits of the issues
presented by this case because we are of the opinion that the
plaintiff did not have standing to commence this action.
Requisite standing exists when "the plaintiff [has]
allege[d] that the challenged action has caused him injury in
fact * * * ." Rhode Island Ophthalmological Society
v. Cannon, 113 R.I. 16, 22, 317 A.2d 124, 128 (1974)
(internal quotation marks omitted). And such an injury in
fact must be "concrete and particularized" and
"actual or imminent." DePetrillo v. Belo
Holdings, Inc., 45 A.3d 485, 492 (R.I. 2012) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The record is bereft of even a
scintilla of evidence tending to show that the plaintiff ever
possessed legal title to the property. The mortgage, the
note, the pertinent deeds, and the land evidence records all
reflect ownership exclusively in the name of Natividad
Mercedes. It should be added that the plaintiff's
reliance on G.L. 1956 § 15-4-11 in support of his
contention that he could commence an action on behalf of his
wife is unavailing. The term "attorney" in that
statute actually refers to a power of attorney and did not
endow the plaintiff with the authority to commence an action
on behalf of his wife or otherwise to represent her in our
courts. The plaintiff has no ownership interest in the
subject property and thus no particularized injury;
accordingly, it is our view that the motion justice properly
granted summary judgment on the basis of the plaintiff's
complete lack of standing. See DePetrillo, 45 A.3d at
we affirm the grant of summary judgment by the motion ...