County Superior Court PC 10-229, Patricia A. Hurst Associate
Plaintiff: Thomas M. Dickinson, Esq.
Defendants: Marc DeSisto, Esq.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
A. Suttell Chief Justice
December 2008, Terry Andoscia (plaintiff) was reappointed to
his fourth consecutive two-year term as assistant zoning
inspector in the Town of North Smithfield (the town). The
issue in this appeal is whether that appointment constitutes
a contract of employment. The plaintiff appeals from a
Superior Court judgment in favor of the town, by and through
its finance director, Cheryl Ficarra, and the town
administrator, Paulette Hamilton (collectively, defendants).
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
considering the parties' written and oral submissions and
reviewing the record, we are of the opinion that this case
may be decided without further briefing or argument. We
conclude, as did the trial justice, that, under the
circumstances of this case, no contract exists; therefore, we
affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.
material facts in this case are undisputed. In 2002,
plaintiff was appointed to serve a two-year term as an
assistant zoning inspector for the town. After successfully
carrying out his duties, plaintiff was subsequently appointed
to two consecutive two-year terms by the town administrator,
in 2004 and 2006. Shortly after the end of the latter term,
he received a letter from the town clerk dated December 16,
2008, informing him of another appointment for a two-year
term "expir[ing] on December 1, 2010." Less than
two months later, however, on February 6, 2009, the town
advised plaintiff to not report to work, and it ceased paying
him. The plaintiff's employment was terminated for
budgetary reasons and not for cause.
plaintiff filed a complaint with the Superior Court, alleging
breach of employment contract and a violation of his
constitutional rights. The matter was
reached and heard by a trial justice in a jury-waived trial
on June 16, 2014.
trial, Robert E. Benoit, a building and zoning official for
the town and plaintiff's supervisor, testified that, in
February 2009, there was a reduction in aid to the town from
the state. For that reason, several employees were
"temporarily laid off, " and the remaining
employees of the town "agreed to take a 20 percent cut
in pay for a few months until the start of the new [fiscal]
year on July 1st." He further testified that plaintiff
was temporarily laid off and told that, because of the budget
cut, he would not be compensated for any further work. As a
result, plaintiff received no compensation after February 6,
2009. Benoit also stated that, in July 2009, after the
beginning of a new fiscal year, he informed plaintiff
"that he could come back to work any time that he wanted
conclusion of trial, the trial justice entered final judgment
in favor of defendants, from which plaintiff timely appealed.