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James A. Ruggieri Interviewed by Lawyers Weekly on Award of Costs in Federal Litigation

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney’s managing partner, James A. Ruggieri, features prominently in a recent Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly article regarding the award of costs in federal litigation. The article centers on a recent decision by Justice Dennis Saylor IV, Chief Judge of the United States Federal District Court in Massachusetts in In re: Zofran Products Liability Litigation, a multidistrict product liability case alleging that the anti-nausea drug Zofran caused birth defects. After ruling that plaintiffs’ claims against GlaxoSmithKline were preempted by federal law, Justice Saylor awarded GSK $459,989 in litigation costs pursuant to Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The vast majority of these costs were expenses incurred in obtaining copies of the plaintiffs’ medical records.

As a prominent product liability defense attorney in Rhode Island, Lawyer’s Weekly reached out to Mr. Ruggieri for comment on the ruling. Mr. Ruggieri’s comments highlighted several important aspects of Justice Saylor’s ruling, chief among them that In re Zofran provides much needed guidance for counsel about when costs may be awarded and what standard will be used to determine what costs are reasonable and necessary. “The care really does lay out what Rule 54 says and what the corresponding statute—28 U.S.C. § 1920—requires,” he told Lawyers Weekly. “For that reason alone, it’s very helpful. There aren’t a lot of these decisions.”

Mr. Ruggieri also noted that Judge Saylor’s opinion recognizes a presumption in favor of costs being awarded to the prevailing party under Rule 54(d)(1), which is sometimes overlooked by courts and by litigants.

Finally, Mr. Ruggieri credited both Judge Saylor and GSK for their attention to detail in accounting for the costs awarded. “The court really does a good job explaining why it was important for GSK’s lawyers to go out and get the medical records for each of these hundreds of plaintiffs in this multidistrict litigation,” he said. Likewise, “GSK was careful not to charge for the costs of services they used or the costs to digitize or index [the records].” By seeking only the “raw costs that each medical provider charged to get that first copy—and only that”—Mr. Ruggieri said, GSK was able to preempt arguments that its claim for costs was over-expansive, unreasonable, and punitive.

Mr. Ruggieri joined HCC in 1984 and has been a partner in the firm since 1990. He is a sustaining member of the Product Liability Advisory Council, an association of more than 100 leading product manufacturers and 350 of the foremost product liability defense counsel in the United States and abroad. He has also been recognized on multiple occasions by both The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel for his outstanding achievement in the fields of product liability and insurance law.

The full article from the March 25, 2024 edition of Rhode Island Lawyer’s Weekly is available here. For further information regarding Mr. Ruggieri’s expertise in product liability and other practice areas, please see his biography here.

2024-04-15T14:16:42-04:00April 15th, 2024|

Welcome To The Team Allie!

HCC is pleased to announce the addition of Allie Rampy as a law clerk in our Providence office. Allie is a 3L at the University of Massachusetts School of Law, where she was a Student Fellow in the Community Development Clinic, directly assisting clients in entity formation, tax status analysis, land use, zoning, and entity dissolution matters. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.S. in Political Science. Previously, Allie was a Judicial Extern in the Maricopa County Superior Court and is currently externing remotely for the Arizona Court of Appeals. Welcome, Allie! We are proud to have you on board!

2024-02-27T06:45:47-05:00February 27th, 2024|

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP Welcomes a New Partner

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney is pleased to announce the promotion of Brian W. Haynes to partner. Brian’s practice focuses primarily on complex commercial litigation, insurance coverage, product liability, and insurance defense. He regularly represents clients in both state and federal court, and at both the trial and appellate levels. He also has experience representing clients in international commercial arbitration.

Brian is a graduate of The College of William & Mary (B.A., 2005) and of Suffolk University Law School (J.D., cum laude, 2011). He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  He joined HCC in 2017.

2024-01-18T13:24:26-05:00January 18th, 2024|

HCC extends it continuing condolences to the Borden family.

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP would like to recognize and honor the memory of retired senior partner Kenneth P. Borden, Sr., who passed away on December 23, 2023, at the age of 87. A link to his obituary is below.

Ken worked through the ranks of HCC over the course of 42 years until his retirement in 2006 as senior partner. KPB meaningfully, and uniquely, helped this firm and its attorneys grow with his intelligence, honesty, and candor. His representation of clients with zealous advocacy was unquestioned.

His regular presence at our annual holiday parties will be missed.

Kenneth P. Borden Sr., Esq. – Scituate | Obituaries | valleybreeze.com

2024-01-06T06:48:25-05:00January 6th, 2024|


September is National Sepsis Awareness Month. This year, HCC proudly celebrates the enactment of Rhode Island House Bill 5869, which establishes improved protocols for the early detection and treatment of sepsis. The bill is the culmination of a tireless, four-year effort by HCC’s Tara Cirella, her husband, Skip, and the Gianna Cirella Memorial Foundation to improve health outcomes for Rhode Islanders suffering from this deadly condition.

HCC is proud to have partnered with DCRI charitable programs and DRI Cares to support Tara, Skip, and the Gianna Cirella Memorial Foundation in their efforts to make this bill a reality. We hope that you will join us by wearing purple in recognition of their achievement and to promote continued research and advocacy for this special cause.

To make a donation to support the Gianna Cirella Memorial Foundation’s ongoing work, please visit https://www.gistrong.org/donate.

2023-09-29T14:09:38-04:00September 28th, 2023|

HCC Participates in The Fifth Annual Edition of Tour de Rhody

Despite the rain, it was a fantastic day cycling on the unpaved fire roads surrounding the Scituate Reservoir. Tour de Rhody is a fundraising event hosted by the Lifespan Cancer Institute. Its mission is to support cutting edge research and cancer trials designed by Brown University Oncology Research Group. Great job Austin Hevey, for supporting such a great cause!

For more information regarding Tour de Rhody, please visit https://tourderhody.com/

2023-09-26T12:43:48-04:00September 26th, 2023|

HCC Welcomes Attorneys Austin M. Hevey and Brooke E. Pearsons

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP is pleased to announce that Attorneys Austin M. Hevey and Brooke E. Pearsons have joined the firm.

Austin M. Hevey is admitted in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Prior to joining the firm, Austin worked as a high school English teacher. He served as chairperson of his school’s accreditation committee and was responsible for curriculum writing and development. Austin is also an avid runner and cyclist. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island and the University of Massachusetts School of Law.

Brooke E. Pearsons is admitted in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Prior to joining the firm, Brooke served as a judicial law clerk at the Rhode Island Workers Compensation Court. While at law school, Brooke served as an editor for the Law Review. She Graduated from Roger Williams University and Roger Williams School of Law.

2023-09-20T16:49:07-04:00September 20th, 2023|

Higgins Cavanagh & Cooney Attorney Participates in Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Forum

HCC attorney Melissa Horne recently participated in a Legal Clinic hosted by the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program for its Community College of Rhode Island cohort. The clinic offered small business owners an opportunity to participate in a discussion led by a panel of three local attorneys about legal challenges facing small businesses today. Ms. Horne also addressed the participants’ specific legal questions about contractual issues and statutory and regulatory concerns.

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program provides business education, support services and pathways to capital for growth-oriented entrepreneurs. The 12-week curriculum focuses on providing qualified small business managers with practical skills they can use to recognize new business opportunities, increase business growth and develop a customized growth plan for their business.

Attorney Horne has participated in several Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses Legal Clinics and counsels a number of clients who have completed the 10K Small Businesses program. If you are a business owner who has questions about business law issues, please contact Melissa at mhorne@hcc-law.com.

2023-08-28T12:40:23-04:00August 28th, 2023|