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Gallop v. Adult Correctional Institutions

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

November 14, 2019

Dana Gallop
Adult Correctional Institutions et al.

          Providence County PC 10-6627 Superior Court Sarah Taft-Carter Associate Justice.

          For Plaintiff: Ronald J. Resmini, Esq. Adam J. Resmini, Esq.

          For Defendants: Michael W. Field Department of Attorney General.

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.



         This case came before the Supreme Court on October 2, 2019, on appeal by the plaintiff, Dana Gallop (plaintiff or Gallop), from a Superior Court judgment in favor of the defendants, the Adult Correctional Institutions, the State of Rhode Island, Ian Rosado (Rosado), and Matthew Galligan (Galligan), following the entry of an order, after remand by this Court, that denied the plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint. Before this Court, the plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in (1) failing to address the plaintiff's argument that G.L. 1956 § 13-6-1 violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, and in failing to allow the plaintiff's longstanding state law tort claims to proceed; and (2) denying the plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint. We directed the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After considering the parties' written and oral submissions and reviewing the record, we conclude that cause has not been shown and that this case may be decided without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

         Facts and Travel

         This case arises out of an incident that allegedly took place on or about April 26, 2010, while plaintiff was held in pretrial detention at the ACI while awaiting trial on numerous counts stemming from a fatal shooting in Providence in 2008. The plaintiff alleged that he was attacked by Rosado, a fellow inmate, and that he suffered lacerations and permanent facial scarring as a result. The plaintiff also alleged that the attack was made possible because, the day before the attack took place, Rosado told Galligan, a correctional officer, that he intended to carry out the attack. According to plaintiff, Galligan then informed various "John Doe" defendants of Rosado's planned attack.[1] Finally, plaintiff alleged that Galligan had abandoned his post for eighteen minutes on April 26, 2010, to afford Rosado the opportunity to carry out the assault.

         On May 12, 2010, plaintiff was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder, felony assault, using a firearm when committing a crime of violence, carrying a pistol without a license, and possession of arms by a person convicted of a crime of violence or who is a fugitive from justice. He was also declared a habitual offender. The trial justice sentenced plaintiff to two mandatory consecutive life sentences, plus an additional twenty-year sentence to be served consecutively to the second life sentence, and two ten-year sentences to run concurrently with the first life sentence. The plaintiff was also sentenced, as a habitual offender, to an additional twenty-five years, to be served after the sentences on the underlying conviction, without the possibility of parole. The plaintiff appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgment of conviction on May 2, 2014. State v. Gallop, 89 A.3d 795, 806 (R.I. 2014) (Gallop I).

         On November 10, 2010, plaintiff filed a civil complaint in the present case, naming the ACI, the state, and various John Does as defendants, alleging negligence for failing to properly protect him. As part of that initial complaint, plaintiff also alleged several additional common law tort claims, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy and joint enterprise resulting in assault and battery, implied breach of warranty, failure to maintain "protective responsibilities[, ]" and a violation of plaintiff's civil rights.

         On April 11, 2013, with the statute of limitations looming, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, adding Rosado and Galligan as named defendants, with additional allegations concerning the circumstances under which the alleged incident took place. Significantly, plaintiff alleged the same tort claims that he alleged in his original complaint and did not add any federal or state constitutional claims.

         The day before the trial's scheduled start date, the trial justice, sua sponte, raised the issue of § 13-6-1, the civil death statute, based on the fact that plaintiff was serving consecutive sentences of life imprisonment. The defendants immediately moved to dismiss the case in accordance with § 13-6-1, arguing that plaintiff was deemed to be civilly dead and that, therefore, the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims.

         The plaintiff objected to the motion to dismiss and sought leave to file a second amended complaint. The proposed second amended complaint added a claim alleging violations by defendants under various statutory and constitutional provisions, including 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; article 1, sections 2, 6, and 8 of the Rhode Island constitution, and G.L. 1956 §§ 42-112-1 and 42-112-2 of the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act. Counts two through six of the proposed second amended complaint recited the same tort allegations as in the original and first amended complaints, but more clearly assigned responsibility for each tort to specific actors.

         Following a hearing on July 28, 2016, the trial justice granted defendants' motion to dismiss based on the civil death statute, but she did not address plaintiff's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. The plaintiff appealed, arguing before this Court that § 13-6-1 did not require dismissal of his complaint and that the trial justice erred in failing to address his motion to file a ...

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