United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
WILLIAM E. SMITH CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Judge Lincoln D. Almond filed a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) (ECF No. 19) recommending that the
Court grant Defendants' Motion To Dismiss (ECF No. 6) and
Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 11), and deny
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 7).
carefully reviewing the R&R and the parties'
submissions, and having heard no objections, the Court
ACCEPTS the R&R and adopts its reasoning and
recommendations. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS
Defendants' Motion To Dismiss (ECF No. 6) and
Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 11), and DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 7).
Final judgment shall enter for Defendants as to all counts of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 20).
IS SO ORDERED.
Trevor Gaskell initiated this legal action in Superior Court
alleging violations of his constitutional rights (Counts I
and II) and breach of “contractual obligations”
by “committing Fraud by Inducement.” (Count III).
(ECF Doc. No. 1-1). He sues his two state court appointed
public defenders. Plaintiff has since moved to withdraw his
constitutional claims and to “more clearly
define” his contract claim. (ECF Doc. No. 14).
Defendants have no objection. (ECF Doc. No. 18).
before the Court for report and recommendation (28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B)) are (1) Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss (ECF Doc. No. 6); (2) Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF Doc. No. 7); and Defendants'
Cross-motion for Summary Judgment (ECF Doc. No. 11). After
reviewing these filings and the relevant case law, the Court
concludes that Plaintiff's breach of contract/fraud by
inducement claim (Count III) fails to state a viable legal
claim, is frivolous and must be dismissed with prejudice.
has withdrawn Counts I and II and thus only Count III remains
for consideration. Plaintiff was “arrested for several
unarmed [bank] robberies throughout Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, and Connecticut and was brought to the A.C.I.
for custody.” (ECF Doc. No. 14-1 at p. 1). Because of
his arrest, he was brought before the state court as an
alleged violator of his probation for prior state crimes. He
was appointed state public defenders Angela Yingling and
Christopher Smith to represent him in the violation matter.
Plaintiff alleges that he “accepted a plea for
admitance [sic] of violation in exchange for 3 and one half
years ACI, with State and federal non-prosecution agreement
regarding the ‘underlying offenses.'”
Id. at p. 2. In his more clearly-defined Count III,
Plaintiff alleges “[f]raud by inducement.” He
claims that Defendants “induced a fraudulent plea on
behalf of the federal government which they knew full well
they were not authorized to offer or accept.”
Id. at p. 3. He claims that the fraud caused him
harm including federal sentencing exposure that forced him to
take an unfavorable federal plea. Id.
extent Plaintiff's claim is one for breach of contract,
the law is clear that there is no contractual relationship
between an indigent criminal defendant and his or her
court-appointed lawyer. See Browne v. Robb, 583 A.2d
949, 953-954 (Del. Sup. Ct. 1990) (finding no contractual
relationship between an indigent defendant and his
court-appointed attorney). Plaintiff now titles Count III as
one for “fraud by inducement” and pleads that his
court-appointed public defenders “induced a fraudulent
plea” presumably based on the claimed federal
“non-prosecution agreement.” Under Rhode Island
law, fraud in the inducement is a fraudulent
misrepresentation that leads a person to enter into a
transaction with a false impression or understanding of the
facts. See, e.g., Bourdon's, Inc.
v. Ecin Indus., Inc., 704 A.2d 747, 753 (R.I. 1997).
Plaintiff has not, however, alleged any facts upon which a
reasonable inference of fraud on the part of his public
defenders could be drawn. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (a plaintiff must plead facts supporting
a plausible entitlement to relief beyond mere speculation).
He alleges that his public defenders fraudulently induced the
plea “on behalf of the federal government” but
pleads absolutely no plausible facts upon which such a
conspiracy could reasonably be found. Moreover, the Court has
been unable to locate any reported Court decisions
recognizing such a fraudulent plea inducement claim against a
court-appointed attorney and is mindful from a public policy
standpoint of the “unique vulnerability of court
appointed lawyers” to baseless claims. See
Brown, 583 A.2d at 955. While Plaintiff's claimed
misunderstanding of the terms of his state plea deal may, if
true, support an argument to set aside his probation
violation admission, his allegations simply do not support
any viable fraud or contract claims against his
foregoing reasons, I recommend that the Court GRANT
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Cross-motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF Doc. Nos. 6 and 11) and DENY
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF Doc. No. 7).
I also recommend that the Court enter Final Judgment in favor
of Defendants as to all claims in Plaintiff's Complaint.
objection to this Report and Recommendation must be specific
and must be filed with the Clerk of the Court within fourteen
days of its receipt. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); LR Cv
72. Failure to file specific objections in a timely manner
constitutes waiver of the right to review by the District
Court and the right to appeal the District Court's
decision. See United States v. Valencia-Copete, ...