Providence County Superior Court (PC 15-2153) Joseph A.
Montalbano Associate Justice.
Plaintiff: Ronald J. Resmini, Esq.
Defendants: Darryl Dayian, Esq. Lauren D. Wilkins, Esq.
Gregory A. Carrara, Esq. Dennis S. Baluch, Esq.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and
Gilbert V. Indeglia Associate Justice.
plaintiff, Charles Kemp (plaintiff or Kemp), appeals from a
Providence County Superior Court grant of summary judgment in
favor of one of the defendants, PJC of Rhode Island, Inc.,
d/b/a Rite Aid of Rhode Island, Inc. (Rite Aid), in a
slip-and-fall action. Additionally, in these consolidated
appeals, the plaintiff appeals from a denial of his motion
for a new trial granted in favor of defendants Riverside
Plaza Associates, LP (Riverside), which owned the shopping
center where the Rite Aid was located, and Venditelli &
Sons, Inc. (Venditelli). This case came before the Supreme Court
on May 9, 2018, pursuant to an order directing the parties to
appear and show cause why the issues raised in these appeals
should not be summarily decided. After hearing the
parties' arguments and reviewing their memoranda, we are
satisfied that cause has not been shown. Accordingly, we
shall decide these appeals at this time without further
briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth herein, we
affirm the order and judgment of the Superior Court in these
February 5, 2014, the plaintiff drove his truck to a Rite Aid
store in East Providence while it was snowing. After parking
his truck in the lot, he walked into the store to buy cigars.
Then, returning to his truck, he located a prescription, and
he went back to the store. It was during this second venture back
to the store that he tripped and fell over a cement parking
stop located in front of his truck in the parking lot. As a
result, Kemp injured his right knee, requiring
hospitalization, nursing home care, and physical therapy.
deposition, Kemp recalled tripping in the parking lot:
"I pulled [my truck] in head first * * * and there was a
big pile of snow on the left so that, you know, there's
kind of a walk space between the cars, and because of that
big pile of snow, I had to move a little more to the right
when I parked the car because the space was narrowed down. *
* * [T]hey have those concrete things * * * I had to move
over that way, and part of it was sticking out, and I was
squeezing * * * this little path like that. * * * I went in
the store and I must have just missed the thing because it
was just hanging out maybe that much on the side, * * * which
if I had been able to park the car where I should, it would
be more over to the left."
trial, Kemp testified that the pile of snow was
"[p]robably five [feet] high" and about fifteen
Reed, an employee of Riverside, explained in his deposition
that, in 2013 and 2014, he was responsible for
"snowblow[ing] with the snowblower all the sidewalks [at
the shopping center], and then * * * put[ting] salt down and
clear[ing] the entrances to all the stores." Moreover,
Reed stated that he put salt down on sidewalks and any paths
that he shoveled, including the pathways in between the
parking stops in front of Rite Aid. Additionally, for the
2013-2014 winter season, Riverside had hired Venditelli to
perform snow removal at the shopping center, which included
the Rite Aid store. At trial, the owner of Venditelli, Andrew
Venditelli, testified that the snow pile Kemp had described
as about five feet tall was actually only "[m]aybe two
to three feet" high.
21, 2015, Kemp filed a complaint against defendants Rite Aid,
Riverside, and Venditelli, alleging negligence. On October 2,
2015, Rite Aid moved for summary judgment, contending that it
owed no duty of care to plaintiff.
basis for its argument, Rite Aid pointed to a section in its
lease agreement with Riverside-the owner of the property
where the store was located-which provided as follows:
"Landlord shall, at its sole cost and expense (subject
to the following paragraph), keep and maintain the Common
Areas in good condition and repair, including but not limited
to, restriping (when necessary); repairing and replacing
paving and the substrata thereof (Landlord hereby agreeing
that it will repave the Common Areas at least once every ten
(10) years); keeping the Common Areas properly policed,
drained, free of snow, ice, water, rubbish and obstructions,
and in a neat, clean, orderly and sanitary condition; *
* * and maintaining any plantings and landscaped areas.
Landlord shall begin to remove accumulated snow and ice
from the Common Areas and diligently prosecute the removal
thereof. Landlord may deposit accumulated ice and snow
on portions of the non-exclusive parking areas and other
parts of the Common Areas to the extent necessary under the
circumstances, but in no event shall any such deposit
materially interfere with or otherwise materially disrupt
Tenant's use of the Premises, the visibility of the
premises from Willett Avenue, and/or the operation of the
Tenant's business." (Emphasis added.)
hearing on the matter on January 26, 2016, the hearing
justice granted Rite Aid's summary-judgment motion.
However, no final judgment entered pursuant to Rule 54(b) of
the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure; and, on
September 6, 2016, the eve of trial, Rite Aid filed a motion
for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50 of the
Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure, relying on the same
grounds that were ...