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Suprey v. CBS Corp.

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Providence

April 30, 2018

MARY SUPREY, individually and as the Personal Representative of the Estate of PAUL F. MCCARTHY Plaintiff,
v.
CBS CORPORATION F/K/A VIACOM, INC., et al. Defendants.

         Providence County Superior Court

          For Plaintiff: Robert J. Sweeney, Esq.

          For Defendant: Jeffrey M. Thomen, Esq.; Randolph B. Totten, Esq.; Victoria M. Almeida, Esq.; Mark O. Denehy, Esq.; James R. Oswald, Esq.; Andrew R. McConville, Esq.

          DECISION

          GIBNEY, P.J.

         Defendant General Electric Company (Defendant or GE) brings this Rule 60(b) Motion for Relief from Order with respect to this Court's June 27, 2017 Decision (the Decision), in which several defendants' motion for summary judgment was denied. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 8-2-14. For the reasons stated herein, GE's Motion for Relief from Order is granted and this Court enters an order granting summary judgment for GE.

         I

          Facts and Travel

         In this asbestos liability action, Plaintiff contends that Paul F. McCarthy, the Decedent, was exposed to asbestos-containing products while he was employed by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Postal Service. With regard to GE, the Plaintiff alleges that Mr. McCarthy was exposed to GE asbestos-containing material products while he worked for the Navy and lived aboard the U.S.S. Glennon (Glennon). A more detailed recitation of the facts and procedural history was provided by this Court in its June 27, 2017 Decision. See Suprey v. Alfa Laval, Inc., No. PC-2013-3511, No. PC-2013-3512, 2017 WL 2840563 (R.I. Super. June 27, 2017) (Gibney, P.J.).

         Defendants Warren Pumps, LLC, Gardner Denver, Inc., and GE sought summary judgment, and oral arguments were heard on February 1, 2017. In support of its motion for summary judgment, GE argued that the Plaintiff failed to provide evidence that Mr. McCarthy was exposed to any asbestos-containing GE products on a regular basis over an extended period of time and in close proximity. On June 27, 2017, this Court published its Decision, denying Defendants' motion for summary judgment.[1] GE filed the instant Rule 60(b) Motion for Relief from Order on August 8, 2017.[2]

         II

          Standard of Review

         While "no authority exists for the filing of a motion to reconsider, " a motion to reconsider is treated as a motion to vacate under Rule 60(b) of the Rhode Island Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 60(b)). Neufville v. State, 172 A.3d 161, 167 (R.I. 2017); Sch. Comm. of Cranston v. Bergin-Andrews, 984 A.2d 629, 649 (R.I. 2009). A motion for relief from a judgment or order under Rule 60(b) "'is addressed to the trial justice's sound judicial discretion and his ruling will not be disturbed on appeal absent a showing of an abuse of discretion or an error of law.'" Casa DiMario, Inc. v. Richardson, 763 A.2d 607, 612 (R.I. 2000) (quoting Brown v. Amaral, 460 A.2d 7, 11 (R.I. 1983)). Rule 60(b) gives a Superior Court justice the authority to grant relief from a judgment or order for the following reasons:

"(1) Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) Newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party; (4) The judgment is void; (5) The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon which the judgment is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application; or (6) Any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment." Super. R. Civ. P. 60(b).

         The Superior Court has "broad power to vacate judgments whenever that action is appropriate to accomplish justice" in accordance with Rule 60(b)(6). Bendix Corp. v. Norberg, 122 R.I. 155, 158, 404 A.2d 505, 506 (1979). However, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has recognized that Rule 60(b)(6) is "'not intended to constitute a catchall and . . . that circumstances must be extraordinary to justify relief.'" Archetto v. Smith, 179 A.3d 144, 146 (Mem.) (R.I. 2018) (quoting Santos v. D. Laikos, Inc., 139 A.3d 394, 399 (R.I. 2016)). The moving party bears the burden of convincing the Court that there are legally ...


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