Henry W. Archetto et al.
Christian R. Smith et al.
County Superior Court (NC 13-151) Associate Justice Walter R.
Plaintiffs: Robert E. Flaherty, Esq.
Defendants: G. Quentin Anthony, Esq.
Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
defendants-Christian R. Smith and Roxalene E.
Wadsworth-appeal from a Newport County Superior Court order
denying their motion to vacate a previous order of the court
that granted the motion of the plaintiffs-Henry W. Archetto,
Maria A. Archetto, Paul H. Archetto, Linda C. Archetto, and
Maria A. Archetto-Hickman-to dismiss their complaint, without
prejudice. This matter came before the Supreme Court on
February 14, 2018, 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
arguments set forth in the parties' memoranda and at oral
argument, we are convinced that cause has not been shown.
Thus, further argument or briefing is not required to decide
this matter. For the reasons outlined below, the Superior
Court's judgment is affirmed.
the facts begetting this case give rise to a claim that
plaintiffs adversely possessed defendants' parcel of land
in Jamestown, this case's procedural posture is what is
significant on appeal, and we therefore proceed accordingly.
The plaintiffs filed their complaint in Newport County
Superior Court on March 29, 2013, alleging that they
adversely possessed a portion of defendants' property. On
June 14, 2013, defendants responded by filing their answer,
without asserting a counterclaim. After three years, the
hearing justice scheduled a date-certain trial for September
8, 2016. On October 6, 2016, approximately a month after the
date-certain trial day had passed, plaintiffs and defendants
appeared before the hearing justice, and plaintiffs made an
oral motion to dismiss their complaint, without
prejudice. The defendants strenuously objected to
plaintiffs' motion, arguing that the case should be
dismissed with prejudice based on the significant
length of time-roughly three years-that had elapsed since
plaintiffs filed suit. Nonetheless, on that date, the hearing
justice granted plaintiffs' motion to dismiss, without
prejudice, directing the parties to prepare an order. On
October 11, 2016, an order entered that dismissed
plaintiffs' complaint, without prejudice.
October 20, 2016, defendants filed a motion to reconsider or
to vacate the October 11, 2016 order, in response to
which plaintiffs filed an objection. The hearing justice
heard argument on the motion to vacate on November 4, 2016,
ultimately denying it on November 18, 2016. On November 30,
2016, defendants appealed the order denying the motion to
vacate the October 11, 2016 order.
reviewing a Superior Court justice's decision granting or
denying a motion to vacate, we are "limited to examining
the correctness of the order granting or denying the motion,
not the correctness of the original judgment."
Santos v. D. Laikos, Inc., 139 A.3d 394, 398 (R.I.
2016) (quoting Ryan v. Roman Catholic Bishop of
Providence, 941 A.2d 174, 187 (R.I. 2008)). We have held
that "[a] Rule 60(b) motion to vacate is addressed to
the [hearing] justice's sound judicial discretion and
will not be disturbed on appeal, absent a showing of abuse of
discretion." Turacova v. DeThomas, 45 A.3d 509,
514 (R.I. 2012) (quoting Yi Gu v. Rhode Island Public
Transit Authority, 38 A.3d 1093, 1099 (R.I. 2012)).
defendants' failure to appeal the October 11, 2016 order
dismissing the case limits their current appeal to only the
November 18, 2016 order denying their motion to vacate. Thus,
the sole question properly before us is whether the hearing
justice abused his discretion in denying defendants'
motion to vacate. See Turacova, 45 A.3d at 514.
60(b) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure permits
a Superior Court justice to discharge a judgment for a number
of reasons. Citing that rule, defendants argue before this
Court that the dismissal order was (1) entered in violation
of Rules 6 and 7 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil
Procedure; (2) void; and (3) an exhibition of the
hearing justice's "plain usurpation of power."
However, these arguments were not presented below. "In
accordance with this Court's longstanding
'raise-or-waive' rule, if an issue was not properly
asserted, and thereby preserved, in the lower tribunals, this
Court will not consider the issue on appeal." Miller
v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 160 A.3d 975, 980 (R.I.
result, we are confined to consider only those arguments that
defendants made before the hearing justice. In
defendants' motion to vacate, they argued that the
hearing justice erred in granting the motion to dismiss,
without prejudice, because the case had been pending for
three years, during which time defendants had incurred
"substantial cost, " and defendants were entitled
to finality. The defendants quarrel with the hearing
justice's remarks expressing that their available remedy
to stop plaintiffs from utilizing their land would be to
initiate a suit of their own.
the defendants' assertions do not clearly articulate any
of the enumerated reasons set out in Rule 60(b). The most
relevant provision with which these arguments comport is Rule
60(b)(6), which empowers a Superior Court justice to grant a
motion to vacate for "[a]ny other reason justifying
relief from the operation of the judgment."
Nevertheless, "we have said that Rule 60(b)(6) is
'not intended to constitute a catchall and * * * that
circumstances must be extraordinary to justify
relief.'" Santos, 139 A.3d at 399 (quoting
Allen ex rel. Allen v. South County Hospital, 945
A.2d 289, 297 (R.I. 2008)). Because we do not believe that
the time and expense expended or the defendants' claimed
lack of finality are "extraordinary and unusual
factors" particular to this case, we hold that the
hearing justice did not abuse his discretion in denying the
defendants' motion to vacate. Id. (quoting
Labossiere v. Berstein, 810 A.2d 210, 215 (R.I.
reasons stated herein, we affirm the judgment of the Superior
Court. The record ...