Court of Providence County, PC 10-3875 Brian Van Couyghen,
Plaintiff: Hakeem Pelumi, Pro Se
Defendants: Krista J. Schmitz, Esq. Arthur M. Read II, Esq.
Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia,
plaintiff, Hakeem Pelumi, appeals pro se from the
Providence County Superior Court's May 9, 2016 grant of
summary judgment in favor of the City of Woonsocket and the
following city officials who were sued in their official
capacities only: Thomas Bruce (Treasurer); Thomas Carey
(Chief of Police); and Edward Doura (Patrol and Arraigning
Officer) (collectively, the Woonsocket defendants). The
plaintiff also appeals from the January 12, 2015 decision
granting the motion to dismiss all claims against defendant
Richard Finnegan, a bail commissioner, who was sued in both
his official and individual capacities. This case came before
the Supreme Court for oral argument on February 7, 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 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.
begin by briefly summarizing the most pertinent underlying
facts. On July 3, 2007, a Woonsocket police officer arrested
plaintiff and charged him with disorderly conduct in
violation of G.L. 1956 § 11-45-1. On July 4, 2007, after
appearing before Bail Commissioner Finnegan at the Woonsocket
Police Station, plaintiff was released on personal
recognizance, at which time Mr. Finnegan collected a $50
"[b]ail [c]ommissioner's fee" from plaintiff.
Subsequently, on July 23, 2007, plaintiff pled nolo
contendere to the underlying charge, received a
six-month suspended sentence, with probation, and was ordered
to pay court costs.
having filed an initial complaint in Superior Court on July
1, 2010, plaintiff filed an amended complaint in August of
that year alleging that, during the July 4, 2007
bail hearing, Mr. Finnegan and the Woonsocket defendants
committed acts constituting "negligence, "
"deprivation, " and violations of 42 U.S.C. §
1983 when Mr. Finnegan "unlawfully, willfully,
negligently, and discriminatingly stole money from the
Plaintiff * * * while other officers [were] watching and
laughing * * *." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) The
plaintiff alleged that he suffered "[h]umiliation, * * *
emotion[al] distress, * * * [f]ear, * * * [l]oss of
confidence, and police phobia, " and he requested that
he be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.
February of 2014, Mr. Finnegan filed a motion to dismiss all
claims against him based on the doctrine of judicial
immunity. Thereafter, in April of 2014, the Woonsocket
defendants and Mr. Finnegan filed separate motions for
summary judgment. A justice of the Superior Court conducted a
hearing on all three motions on May 22, 2014; and, in a
written decision issued on January 12, 2015, he granted Mr.
Finnegan's motion to dismiss. Additionally, the hearing
justice granted the Woonsocket defendants' motion for
summary judgment as to four counts, but he denied their
motion as to two counts. After conducting additional
discovery, the Woonsocket defendants again moved for summary
judgment on the remaining counts. After a hearing, that
motion for summary judgment was granted on May 9, 2016; and
plaintiff timely appealed.
clear to us that plaintiff's perfunctory, one and
one-half page submission to this Court falls woefully short
of what is required by our rules. The plaintiff has pointed to
no material errors that occurred at the nisi prius
level, nor has he cited to any facts in the record or legal
authority that would make such error readily apparent. It is
a basic principle of appellate practice that "[s]imply
stating an issue for appellate review, without a meaningful
discussion thereof or legal briefing of the issues, does not
assist the Court in focusing on the legal questions raised,
and therefore constitutes a waiver of that issue."
Giammarco v. Giammarco, 151 A.3d 1220, 1222 (R.I.
2017) (mem.) (internal quotation marks omitted). Where a
plaintiff has failed to develop any argument grounded in
specific facts and pertinent legal argumentation, this Court
will "decline to scour the record to identify facts in
support of the plaintiff's broad claims, and * * * will
not give life to arguments that the plaintiff has failed to
develop on his own." McMahon v. Deutsche Bank
National Trust Co., 131 A.3d 175, 176 (R.I. 2016)
(mem.); see also Riley v. Stone, 900 A.2d 1087, 1098
n.14 (R.I. 2006).
aware of plaintiff's status as a pro se
litigant. See Jacksonbay Builders, Inc. v. Azarmi,
869 A.2d 580, 585 (R.I. 2005) ("It is the right of
litigants to represent themselves, although by doing so they
assume a very difficult task."). Although we seek to be
reasonably accommodating to such litigants, we "cannot
and will not entirely overlook established rules of
procedure, adherence to which is necessary [so] that parties
may know their rights, that the real issue in controversy may
be presented and determined, and that the business of the
courts may be carried on with reasonable dispatch."
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
given the completely undeveloped nature of plaintiff's
arguments on appeal and his failure to meaningfully inform
this Court and defendants of the errors which he claims were
committed below, we conclude that plaintiff has waived the
right to appellate review. See Nuzzo v. Nuzzo Campion
Stone Enterprises, Inc., 137 A.3d 711, 717 (R.I. 2016)
(declining to address an argument raised by an appellant on
appeal due to his failure to have "directed our
attention with specificity to any [alleged] error * *
*"); see also Giddings v. Arpin, 160 A.3d 314,
316 (R.I. 2017) (mem.) ("Given the cursory and
undeveloped nature of [plaintiff's] prebriefing
statement, and its failure to apprise either this Court or
the defendant of the issues he is arguing on appeal, we deem
these issues waived."); Town Houses at Bonnet Shores
Condominium Association v. Langlois, 45 A.3d 577, 584
(R.I. 2012) (indicating that the appellant's contentions
on appeal were "meritless because they were not
sufficiently developed in his written submissions to this
concluding, we pause to unequivocally inform the plaintiff
that he has had his day in court-and then some! There comes a
point when it is time to write "the end"
with respect to a particular piece of litigation, and that
point has certainly been reached with respect to the instant
case. See, e.g., Estate of Mitchell v.
Gorman, 970 A.2d 1, 6 (R.I. 2009) ("[I]t is time to
bring this matter, at long last, to its conclusion.");
Palazzo v. Alves, 944 A.2d 144, 155 (R.I. 2008)
("There is nothing more to be said; this case is
over."); Arena v. City of Providence, 919 A.2d
379, 396 (R.I. 2007) ("It is time for this litigation to
end."); Northern Trust Co. v. Zoning Board of Review
of Town of Westerly, 899 A.2d 517, 520 (R.I. 2006)
(mem.) ("The time has come for this litigation to
reasons set forth herein, we affirm the judgment of the
Superior Court. The ...