J. Ronald Fishbein
Cynthia R. Hanssen.
Providence County Superior Court (PC 11-6009) Associate
Justice Richard A. Licht
Plaintiff: J. Ronald Fishbein, Pro Se
Defendant: Frederick A. Costello, Esq.
Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
plaintiff, J. Ronald Fishbein, appeals from an August 11,
2015 amended order and judgment in Providence County Superior
Court dismissing his complaint and entering final judgment
pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil
Procedure. On appeal, he raises the following issues: (1)
"[w]hether the sanction imposed [against him] was
appropriate, meaning whether the conduct of Fishbein in
moving for the disqualification of [opposing counsel] is
sanctionable[ ] and [whether] assessment of legal fees was
appropriate;" and (2) "[w]hether the imposition of
legal fees in the amount of $5, 000 was proper."
case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order
directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues
raised in this case 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 case
may be decided at this time. For the reasons stated herein,
we affirm the order of the Superior Court.
case stems from a dispute about legal fees between plaintiff,
who is currently a suspended Rhode Island attorney, and the
defendant, Cynthia Hanssen. In the course of that dispute, on
January 9, 2012, plaintiff first noticed the deposition of
Ms. Hanssen's counsel. On March 21, 2012, a protective
order was granted preventing that deposition. In spite of the
existence of that protective order, over two years later, on
November 6, 2014, Mr. Fishbein moved to disqualify Ms.
Hanssen's counsel so that he could call him as a witness
at trial. The hearing justice found that the motion to
disqualify had no basis "whatsoever" and that it
was filed to "harass or cause unnecessary delay and
clearly increase the cost of litigation." As a result,
the hearing justice imposed sanctions in the amount of $5,
000 against Mr. Fishbein. Mr. Fishbein failed to pay those
sanctions, despite having been found to have the ability to
pay and having been given several months to do so.
Accordingly, the hearing justice dismissed Mr. Fishbein's
complaint pursuant to Rule 41(b)(2) of the Superior Court
Rules of Civil Procedure. Ms. Hanssen's counterclaim in
this case remains pending in Superior Court.
respect to the first issue raised on appeal (viz.,
whether or not Mr. Fishbein's conduct was sanctionable),
it is our view that Mr. Fishbein has waived that issue on
appeal. While he includes a lengthy fact section in his
filing before this Court, he does not set forth any
discussion of the issue in the analysis section of that
filing, nor does he cite to any legal authority to support
his contentions. As such, the first argument is waived.
See Terzian v. Lombardi, 180 A.3d 555, 558 (R.I.
2018) ("It has been our consistent policy that simply
stating an issue for appellate review, without a meaningful
discussion thereof or legal briefing of the issues * * *
constitutes a waiver of that issue.") (brackets and
internal quotation marks omitted).
to Mr. Fishbein's contention with respect to the amount
of the sanctions leveled against him, we note that he avers
that the hearing justice did not find that he had an ability
to pay the sanctions by the specified date and that he was
entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his ability to pay.
However, the hearing justice specifically found in the order
and judgment on appeal that Mr. Fishbein was able to pay as
ordered. What is more, even assuming arguendo that
an evidentiary hearing on the ability to pay was required (an
issue we deliberately choose not to pass upon), it is clear
from this Court's thorough perusal of the record that
such a hearing was in essence held on both May 18 and June
Fishbein further contends that there was no evidence that the
time records kept by Ms. Hanssen's counsel were
contemporaneous or that Ms. Hanssen "actually
incurred" the charges. But Mr. Fishbein failed to file a
single affidavit or any other evidence contesting the amount
of fees in Superior Court, even when specifically invited to
do so by the hearing justice at a February 4, 2015 hearing.
As such, the hearing justice did not err in awarding $5, 000
in sanctions based on opposing counsel's affidavit as to
the fees incurred and the affidavit of attorney Paul V.
Gallogly attesting to the fact that the fees were fair and
reasonable. See Lett v. Providence Journal Co., 798
A.2d 355, 368 (R.I. 2002) (stating that a trial justice
"has the discretionary authority to fashion what [he or
she] deems to be an ...