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Important Workers’ Compensation Decision Rendered by the R.I. Supreme Court

On November 5, 2020, the Rhode Island Supreme Court reexamined the Exclusivity Provision of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act in Selby v. Baird.

The plaintiff suffered a serious injury while working as a foreman for a tree removal crew. He brought a workers’ compensation claim against Mulch-N-More and was awarded benefits. He then filed a separate negligence claim in Superior Court against Mike’s Professional Tree Service.

The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff was an employee of Mike’s Professional Tree Services, citing its dominion and operational control over the plaintiff. The fact that another company served an administrative function in providing the plaintiff with his paycheck and workers’ compensation benefits did not change that fact. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court’s ruling in granting summary judgment and denied the negligence claim.

This case was on point with prior holdings. Even so, the Court’s latest decision may allow for a more expansive application of the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine in future tort actions.

If you have any questions whatsoever regarding this or any other workers’ compensation matter, please do not hesitate to contact Peter Garvey (pgarvey@hcc-law.com).

A thorough explanation of the Court’s decision can be found in the Client Alert here.

2021-06-24T16:21:34-04:00November 23rd, 2020|

Business Journal Interviews Paul Callaghan on Law Firms’ Response to the Pandemic

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney partner Paul S. Callaghan was recently interviewed by the Providence Business News on the ways in which law firms were responding to the challenges of the pandemic.

The newspaper reported that despite all the difficulties and hardships in recent months, some law firms have weathered the pandemic fairly well. For example, Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney has not had to lay off anyone. In fact, the firm hired two new attorneys within the last eight months. As a large firm with offices in Boston and Hartford, Connecticut, Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney had already invested in state-of-the-art technology to ease the transition to working remotely.

In the interview, Paul also said, “Obviously, we have adhered to all of Governor Gina Raimondo’s mandates with the wearing of masks, the taking of everyone’s temperature, and other safety measures such as deep cleanings throughout the office. In addition, we gradually brought back employees into the office in accordance with the Governor’s mandates.”

As for the measures that will be here to stay after the pandemic, Paul offered the following assessment. “Many of the changes regarding remote depositions, court appearances, and meetings are most probably here to stay, at least in the short term and maybe permanently,” he said. “How well law firms can adapt to these changes and challenges will underscore the agility and resourcefulness of legal teams in meeting the future needs of clients.”

“The pandemic has taught all of us to have an even greater appreciation for the dedication of our lawyers, staff, and clientele and their devotion to their families,” he concluded.

2021-04-13T13:05:43-04:00November 17th, 2020|

HCC Again Named a Tier 1 Law Firm by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms”

U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers recently released their “Best Law Firms” selections for the State of Rhode Island.

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney once again received a Tier 1 law firm ranking for Personal Injury – Defendants and Product Liability – Defendants.

This marks the eighth consecutive year that Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney has achieved this Tier 1 designation in these practice areas from U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers®.

The rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer reviews from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms.

Firms selected for the 2021 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence because of consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

“This distinction by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers highlights the depth of our experience and the extent of our legal talent at Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney. We are delighted and honored to be recognized by our clients and colleagues in this manner following such a rigorous evaluation process by this prestigious arbiter of excellence within the legal industry.” said Managing Partner James A. Ruggieri.

The 2021 rankings are based on the highest attorney and law firm participation on record.

2020-11-05T12:53:35-05:00November 5th, 2020|

Super Lawyers® Recognizes Multiple HCC Attorneys

Super Lawyers has named five attorneys from Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney as 2020 Super Lawyers and 2020 Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars. Super Lawyers is the national rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

2020 Super Lawyers

James A. Ruggieri (Personal Injury – Products, Insurance Coverage, General Litigation, Employment Litigation.)

Paul S. Callaghan (Construction Litigation, Insurance Coverage, Civil Litigation, Transportation, Maritime.)

Peter E. Garvey (Personal Injury – General, Professional Liability, Insurance Coverage, General Litigation, Business Litigation.)

2020 Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars

Brian W. Haynes (General Litigation, Personal Injury – General, Insurance Coverage, Alternative Dispute Resolution.)

Kurt A. Rocha (Civil Litigation, Insurance Coverage, Class Action/Mass Torts.)

2021-09-16T15:33:35-04:00October 13th, 2020|

HCC Welcomes Attorney Tyler J. Pare

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney is pleased to announce that Attorney Tyler J. Pare has joined the firm.

Tyler Pare is an attorney in the Litigation Department at HCC. He is admitted to practice before the state courts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Before joining the firm, he served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Francis X. Flaherty of the R.I. Supreme Court, where he conducted extensive legal research for various civil and criminal cases. In the process, he also prepared memoranda and draft opinions for the justice on important pending matters.

Tyler graduated summa cum laude from Roger Williams School of Law, where he was also a member of the law review. During that time, he interned at the R.I. Supreme Court, R.I. Family Court, and the Office of the R.I. Attorney General. His B.A. degree was awarded magna cum laude from Saint Anselm College, during which time he also studied at King’s College London.

2021-03-23T15:35:40-04:00September 23rd, 2020|

R.I. Superior Court Operations Set Until Year’s End

Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney has issued R.I. Superior Court Administrative Order 2020-08 governing court operations from September 6, 2020, to December 18, 2020.

The Superior Court will continue to work to safeguard participants and court personnel in the management of court calendars, hearings, and other matters in courthouses throughout the state. Matters that can be handled via remote WebEx technology will continue to minimize the number of persons gathered in courtrooms. These remote hearings and conferences are encouraged and will continue to be supported by personnel specifically trained for this purpose. Matters that cannot be handled remotely shall be conducted in-person.

  • Calendars will be staggered to ensure compliance within capacity limits established for courthouses and individual courtrooms to allow for appropriate distancing.
  • Jury trials are to resume on a limited basis in Providence County no sooner than September 21, 2020. However, no jury trial will be scheduled without the express, written authorization of the Presiding Justice, where a constitutional, statutory, or otherwise highly critical need has been demonstrated.
  • In-court bench trials shall continue with advanced notice to the Presiding Justice. The selected courtroom shall allow for social distancing based upon the number of participants. The bench, witness area as well as the clerk and stenographic workspace shall be outfitted with plexiglass and properly distanced from the counsel table. Plexiglass separators shall be provided to attorneys and/or litigants seeking additional separation at the counsel table as needed or upon request.

The complete court order is available here. If you have any questions regarding any of these measures, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at the firm.

2020-09-03T14:19:39-04:00September 3rd, 2020|

The Best Lawyers in America® Names James A. Ruggieri “Lawyer of The Year.” Five HCC Attorneys Honored


Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP, is pleased to announce that James A. Ruggieri, Stephen P. Cooney and Gerald C. DeMaria, Sr. were recently recognized in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

An additional accolade was afforded James Ruggieri, who was named “Lawyer of the Year” for his outstanding professional excellence in product liability litigation defense. This honor resulted from the consistently high evaluations that he received from his peers.

In fact, Best Lawyers® only highlights a single “Lawyer of the Year” in any given location and practice area based on the number of votes received from peers each year.

The Best Lawyers in America® is considered one of the leading peer-reviewed resources for selecting the best legal talent worldwide. For the current edition, only five percent of lawyers in private practice are selected as Best Lawyers®.

James Ruggieri was also named a Best Lawyer® in the category of employment law – management. Gerald C. DeMaria, Sr. was recognized on the list of Best Lawyers® in the areas of personal injury litigation – defendants and product liability litigation – defendants. In addition, Stephen P. Cooney, who maintains an active environmental law practice, was selected as a Best Lawyer® by his peers for his expertise in defending mass tort class actions.

The selection process begins when lawyers are nominated for consideration. Those who receive high peer reviews undergo an additional validation process. Only then can these attorneys be recognized by Best Lawyers®.

This year, Best Lawyers® also recognized attorneys who have demonstrated professional excellence early in their careers. The “Ones to Watch” selected from Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney were Brian W. Haynes and Kurt A. Rocha.

Brian Haynes was recognized in the areas of insurance law and personal injury litigation – defendants. He is admitted to practice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Before joining Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, he practiced at a regional litigation firm headquartered in Boston and clerked for the in-house legal department of a multinational company.

He is a graduate of the College of William & Mary with a BA in history and received his JD, cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School.

Kurt Rocha was selected for insurance law and personal injury litigation – defendants. He is admitted in three jurisdictions: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, as well as the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Prior to joining the firm, he worked at leading civil litigation law firms in New England.

He received his law degree from Roger Williams University, cum laude. He obtained his BS in Criminal Justice from the same institution, where he also received a Master of Science in Criminal Justice.

James Ruggieri and Stephen Cooney are partners with the firm. Gerald DeMaria is Of Counsel. Brian Haynes and Kurt Rocha joined Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney as litigation attorneys in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

2020-08-24T05:05:16-04:00August 20th, 2020|

Paul S. Callaghan Profiled in the Providence Business News on Construction Law

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney partner Paul S. Callaghan was featured exclusively in the Providence Business News for a wide-ranging interview on the various construction law issues arising during this pandemic.

For almost 30 years he has represented local, national and international corporations, including construction companies and their insurers, in a wide variety of litigation matters – at trial and on appeal in the state and federal courts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and before arbitration panels.

He has handled a wide variety of construction-related matters including breach of contract, construction defect, bodily injury, property damage, indemnification, insurance, and surety cases.

In the area of insurance law, he has handled numerous cases involving extra contractual liability, claims handling, insurance fraud, breach of contract, coverage litigation, and bad faith.

A copy of this excellent article is available here. This same interview was also featured in a recent ALFA International publication.

2020-09-16T05:40:41-04:00August 14th, 2020|

Paul S. Callaghan: Construction Litigation Issues Amid COVID-19

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney partner Paul S. Callaghan has authored a timely and informative article titled, “Construction Litigation Issues Amid COVID-19.”

Paul addresses a range of issues of concern to the construction industry including the application of “liquidating damages” in contracts as well as “force majeure” or “Act of God” clauses that may excuse performance in certain instances.

He also comments upon current circumstances in the construction field that may give rise to litigation. Each of these points is covered in detail. The complete article is available here.

If you are interested in pursuing the topic of construction litigation further, please contact Paul at pcallaghan@hcc-law.com.

2020-11-20T13:27:58-05:00July 23rd, 2020|

James A. Ruggieri Continues on Law School Board

The Roger Williams University School of Law has recently named several new members to its board of directors. James Ruggieri continues to serve the law school in that capacity as he has continuously for multiple years.

The impressive roster of new and existing board members, representing a broad cross-section of the bench and bar, also includes:

Judge William E. Smith, U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell of the R.I. Supreme Court, Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Judge Brian Stern of the R.I. Superior Court, Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, Nicole Verdi, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Gina M. Raimondo, and Kenneth E. Arnold, former Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Lifespan Corporation.

Dean Michael J. Yelnosky, whose term ends on June 30, said he is confident that the School of Law is in good hands. “I am thrilled for the law school that so many talented and committed individuals have agreed to join our Board of Directors,” Yelnosky said. “They are a remarkable group.”

The Roger Williams University School of Law, founded three decades ago, is the only law school in Rhode Island.

2020-08-25T18:26:31-04:00June 25th, 2020|