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Shine v. Moreau

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

January 9, 2020

Allan M. Shine
v.
Charles Moreau et al. Charles D. Moreau et al.
v.
Allan M. Shine et al. Charles Moreau
v.
Allan M. Shine.

          Providence County Superior Court (PB 10-5615), (PC 10-5672), (PB 10-7394) Associate Justice Michael A. Silverstein

          For Plaintiffs: Theodore Orson, Esq. Harmony Conti Bodurtha, Esq.

          For Defendants: John O. Mancini, Esq. Lawrence L. Goldberg, Esq. Matthew T. Jerzyk, Esq. Michael L. Mineau, Esq.

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

          OPINION

          WILLIAM P. ROBINSON III ASSOCIATE JUSTICE

         These consolidated cases come before this Court on appeal from an April 20, 2017 order of the Providence County Superior Court denying the motions for entry of judgment filed by former Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau and former members of the Central Falls City Council (the City Council) (collectively, the elected officials).[1] The rationale for said denial was set forth in a February 21, 2017 decision of the Superior Court; specifically, that decision held that the elected officials were not entitled to indemnification from the State of Rhode Island[2] for attorneys' fees and legal costs that they incurred over the course of this action. On appeal, the elected officials contend that the hearing justice erred in holding that the elected officials were not entitled to indemnification from the state because, in the view of the elected officials, this Court's previous opinion in Shine v. Moreau, 119 A.3d 1 (R.I. 2015) (Shine I), provided for such an award of attorneys' fees and costs. The elected officials further contend that a suit against a receiver appointed pursuant to the terms of G.L. 1956 chapter 9 of title 45 (the Financial Stability Act)[3] is a suit against the state, and that fact, in their opinion, entitles them to indemnification from the state.

         These cases came before the Supreme Court for oral argument pursuant to an order directing the parties to show cause why the issues raised in these appeals should not be summarily decided. After considering the written and oral submissions of the parties and after a thorough review of the record, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown and that the appeals may be resolved at this time without further briefing or argument.

         For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the order of the Superior Court.

         I Facts and Travel

         The background of these cases is well-known to this Court, in that this is the third time that we have been asked to opine with respect to an issue relevant to these cases. For that reason, we need not and, indeed, will not recite the complicated and lengthy facts. We refer the interested reader to our previous opinions in this action-Moreau v. Flanders, 15 A.3d 565 (R.I. 2011) (Flanders) and Shine I. All that is necessary to the resolution of these appeals is a brief recitation of the procedural posture of the cases. In so doing, we rely primarily on our previous opinions and various documents from the record.

         In July of 2010, a receiver was appointed for the fiscally-troubled City of Central Falls (the City) pursuant to the then-new Financial Stability Act. These cases arose out of conflicts between the receiver on the one hand and the Mayor and City Council on the other. Essentially, these cases required a determination as to the constitutionality of the Financial Stability Act under which the receiver was appointed. This Court ultimately held the Financial Stability Act to be constitutional in our opinion in Flanders. Flanders, 15 A.3d at 574-89.

         Thereafter, the parties continued to litigate about the issues of attorneys' fees and indemnification. The cases returned to this Court, and we then opined that the receiver was not entitled to recover attorneys' fees, that Mayor Moreau was entitled to indemnification for his legal fees and costs, and that the attorney for the City Council was entitled to recover his fees.[4]Shine I, 119 A.3d at 8-19.

         The parties come before us now with respect to a dispute as to who is required to indemnify the elected officials for their legal fees and costs-does the liability rest solely with the City, or the City and the state?

         This Court is aware that the City was engaged in a proceeding in bankruptcy court, but what transpired there has no bearing on the issue before us. Based on the record and exhibits before this Court on appeal, it is clear that, in conjunction with that proceeding, the elected officials entered into a settlement with the City with respect to indemnification and released all their remaining claims against the City. Therefore, any claims for indemnity against the City are not ...


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