Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Zarembka v. Whelan

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

January 18, 2018

Bruce Zarembka
v.
Kali Whelan et al.

         Providence County Superior Court (PC 13-3861) Brian Van Couyghen Associate Justice

          For Plaintiff: Ronald J. Resmini, Esq.

          For Defendants: Jonathan Myhre, Esq.

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

          OPINION

          Paul A. Suttell Chief Justice.

         The plaintiff, Bruce Zarembka, appeals from the Superior Court's denial of his motion for a new trial, following a jury verdict in favor of the defendants, Kali Whelan and John Whelan.[1] 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 conclude that cause has not been shown and that this case may be decided without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the decision of the Superior Court.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         At the outset, we note that plaintiff did not order a transcript of the trial in the Superior Court.[2] Nevertheless, we will outline the facts that we can deduce from the record before us.

         This appeal arises out of an automobile accident that occurred on November 17, 2011, at the intersection of Niantic Avenue and Dupont Drive in Providence, Rhode Island. On August 29, 2013, plaintiff brought an action against Kali Whelan, the operator of a vehicle involved in the collision, and John Whelan, the vehicle's registrant.[3] The complaint alleged that Kali negligently operated her vehicle, which caused a collision with Zarembka's vehicle and resulted in Zarembka sustaining personal injuries. The defendants denied plaintiff's allegations and raised multiple affirmative defenses.

         The case proceeded to arbitration. After hearing the case, the arbitrator issued an award for plaintiff in the amount of $7, 500 plus interest and costs. The defendants rejected the award. The case went to trial; and, on May 16, 2016, a jury returned a verdict for defendants. Judgment was entered that reflected the jury's verdict.

         On May 23, 2016, plaintiff moved for judgment as a matter of law, additur, and/or a new trial; and he argued that the jury's verdict was against the law, the evidence, and the facts. The defendants objected to the motion and moved for the assessment of costs against plaintiff pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 9-22-5 and Rule 54(d) and (e) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure.

         On August 19, 2016, a hearing on plaintiff's motion was held. The trial justice clarified that plaintiff's motion, which was styled as a motion for judgment as a matter of law, additur, and/or a new trial, was in effect a motion for a new trial; and, plaintiff agreed to this clarification. The plaintiff argued that the jury failed to apply the facts to the law in the case at hand. Specifically, he maintained that defendants should have been found negligent based on Kali's testimony at trial that she was traveling thirty miles per hour in a twenty-five-mile-per-hour zone through an intersection in an area with which she was familiar. The defendants asserted that the testimony was conflicting and that, therefore, reasonable minds could differ as to the outcome of the case. Specifically, defendants referenced plaintiff's trial testimony that Kali left the lane in which she was traveling and crashed into him, whereas Kali testified that she had a green light, was in the right of way, and that plaintiff pulled in front of her without using a turn signal.

         The trial justice then rendered his decision. He first articulated the standard for deciding a motion for a new trial. He noted that he had instructed the jury on the burden of proof, duty of care, and comparative negligence, and had provided instructions related to the specifics of the case, such as the degree of care to be exercised when entering an intersection and the violation of motor-vehicle laws as evidence of negligence. The trial justice found plaintiff's and Kali's accounts of the accident incompatible and observed that neither the photographs nor the testimony about the photographs tended to support either account of the accident. Because the trial ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.