Providence County Superior Court (PC 16-4204) Associate
Justice Maureen B. Keough
Plaintiff: John O. Mancini, Esq. Attorney(s) on Appeal
Michael L. Mineau, Esq.
Defendant: Francisco Jaramillo, Pro Se
Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia,
defendant, Francisco Jaramillo (Jaramillo or defendant),
appeals from a Superior Court judgment entered in favor of
the plaintiff, Sean Marchionte (Marchionte or plaintiff). In
his complaint, Marchionte alleged that on January 8, 2007, he
gave Jaramillo $115, 000 in exchange for a promissory note
secured by a mortgage on four properties. After the
promissory note's maturity date lapsed and Jaramillo
failed to make payments, Marchionte issued to Jaramillo a
deficiency notice and demand for payment of the promissory
note's outstanding amount. Jaramillo failed to pay the
amount due, and Marchionte foreclosed on one of the mortgaged
properties. He applied the proceeds from the foreclosure sale
toward the promissory note's outstanding amount and
issued a second deficiency notice and demand to Jaramillo for
payment of the promissory note's outstanding amount.
Jaramillo failed to pay the balance, and thereafter, on
September 6, 2016, Marchionte initiated the action against
Jaramillo in Superior Court for Jaramillo's alleged
breach of the promissory note.
October 3, 2016, Marchionte moved for the entry of default
against Jaramillo pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Superior
Court Rules of Civil Procedure, for his "failure * * *
to plead, answer or otherwise defend this action * * *."
A clerk of the Superior Court entered default for Marchionte
on October 6, 2016. Subsequently, Jaramillo moved to vacate
the entry of default pursuant to Rule 55(c) and also moved
for leave to file an answer out of time. Marchionte objected
to both motions and moved pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2) for the
entry of a default judgment against Jaramillo. Jaramillo
moved to withdraw his motion to vacate the entry of default;
however, he nevertheless objected to Marchionte's motion
for the entry of a default judgment because he challenged the
amount sought by Marchionte.
December 7, 2016, a hearing was held before a justice of the
Superior Court. While we have not been provided with a
transcript of the hearing, Marchionte, in his papers filed in
Superior Court, summarized what occurred at the hearing.
Marchionte claimed that Jaramillo's counsel stated that
defendant no longer objected to the entry of default or to
Marchionte's motion for the entry of a default judgment.
Rather, Marchionte alleged that Jaramillo's counsel
maintained that defendant solely challenged the amount of the
judgment, and therefore withdrew defendant's motion to
vacate the entry of default. By Marchionte's account, the
parties agreed to a continuance to allow for settlement
discussions. Marchionte claimed, however, that
Jaramillo's counsel later expressed that he was no longer
interested in settling. Marchionte moved for an award of
attorneys' fees for Jaramillo's counsel's
"frivolous filings and conduct."
orders entered on February 1, 2017, the hearing justice
granted plaintiff's motions for the entry of a default
judgment and for attorneys' fees. On April 6, 2017,
judgment was entered for plaintiff in the amount of $63,
098.55 plus statutory interest. Jaramillo, pro se,
filed a timely notice of appeal.
appeal, Jaramillo asserts that the hearing justice erred in
entering judgment against him. Specifically, Jaramillo
succinctly maintains that the hearing justice erred in
finding that he did not answer or otherwise defend the action
and "improperly interpreted the law regarding his
[m]otion to [v]acate the [d]efault [j]udgment * * *." In
response, Marchionte asserts that Jaramillo's prebriefing
statement submitted to this Court pursuant to Article I, Rule
12A of the Supreme Court Rules of Appellate Procedure
"contains absolutely no substantive legal or factual
arguments in support of his bare conclusory assertions * *
55(a) provides that default shall enter against a party
"[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative
relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend as
provided by these rules * * *." "After default is
entered, judgment by default may be entered pursuant to Rule
55(b)." R.C. Associates v. Centex General
Contractors, Inc., 810 A.2d 242, 244 (R.I. 2002)
(quoting McKinney & Nazareth, P.C. v. Jarmoszko,
774 A.2d 33, 37 (R.I. 2001)). Pursuant to Rule 55(c), the
Superior Court can set aside the entry of default "[f]or
good cause shown[, ]" and, if a default judgment has
been entered, a party can seek relief from the judgment
pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil
outset, we note that there was no purported motion to vacate
the default judgment, as Jaramillo contends. Below, Jaramillo
withdrew his motion to vacate the entry of default and the
docket reflects that his motion was indeed withdrawn.
Following the entry of a default judgment, Jaramillo did not
seek relief from that judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b).
Therefore, the issue before us for review is solely the entry
of a default judgment.
appeal seeking relief from a default judgment, it is the
appellant's burden to show "that the trial justice
abused his [or her] discretion or committed an error of
law." Rodriguez v. Virgilio, 58 A.3d 914, 915
(R.I. 2012) (mem.). However, we are unable to review the
entry of a default judgment because we have not been provided
with a transcript of the proceedings below. "It was
defendant's responsibility to provide those portions of
the * * * transcript that are necessary for this Court to
perform a meaningful review." Shorrock v.
Scott, 944 A.2d 861, 864 (R.I. 2008). Without the
benefit of the transcripts from the hearings below, we have
nothing with which to review the entry of default and the
resulting default judgment.
Jaramillo's prebriefing statement to this Court does
little to assist our review. Rule 12A requires an appellant
to "file a statement of the case and a summary of the
issues proposed to be argued * * *." We have
consistently held 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." Giddings v.
Arpin, 160 A.3d 314, 316 (R.I. 2017) (mem.) (quoting
Giammarco v. Giammarco, 151 A.3d 1220, 1222 (R.I.
2017) (mem.)). Although we are mindful that Jaramillo is
proceeding with his appeal without counsel and that
"[p]ro se litigants are often granted
greater latitude by the court, " his status as an
unrepresented litigant does not give him "greater rights
than those represented by counsel." Jacksonbay
Builders, Inc. v. Azarmi, 869 A.2d 580, 585 (R.I. 2005)
(quoting Gray v. Stillman White Co., Inc., 522 A.2d
737, 741 (R.I. 1987)). "[T]he courts of this state
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. (quoting Gray, 522 A.2d at 741).
in his one-page prebriefing statement to this Court,
Jaramillo has failed to set forth specific facts and law to
support his claim that the hearing justice erred in entering
a default judgment against him. Further, Jaramillo failed to
appear before this Court for the April 12, 2018 hearing,
during which he would have had the opportunity to address
these concerns. Given the scant record before us to review
the hearing justice's decision to enter a default
judgment, a prebriefing statement that fails to develop and
examine the issues raised on appeal, and Jaramillo's
failure to appear before this Court for oral argument, we
conclude that "[t]he arguments set forth by the