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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|

R.I. Superior Court Issues Continuing Safeguards for Hearings and Conferences

The Superior Court continues to safeguard court users and court personnel. Hearings and conferences that are conducted remotely are encouraged and will continue to be supported by court personnel. Public access to court proceedings will continue through YouTube streaming.

In-Person Hearings

Non-emergency matters that cannot be handled remotely shall be conducted in-person on a limited basis. Calendars will continue to be staggered to ensure compliance with the courthouse and courtroom capacity limits and the social distancing. Judicial Officers shall ensure that courtroom capacity levels are adhered to and that social distancing and face mask protocols are respected.

The following calendars will continue to operate through September 7, 2020, in Providence County: Daily Criminal Calendar, Miscellaneous Criminal Calendar, Trial/Pre-Trial Calendar, Pre­Arraignment Conference (PAC) Calendar, Civil Calendar. In Kent County, the following calendars will operate through September 7, 2020: Daily Criminal Calendar, Civil Calendar, and Newport/Washington County Criminal/Civil Calendar.

Criminal and Civil Jury Trials

All criminal and civil jury trials scheduled to begin between March 16, 2020, and July 31, 2020, shall be continued to a date not earlier than September 8, 2020 and will only take place provided social distancing and precautionary measures are implemented.

Bench Trials – Criminal and Civil

All criminal and civil bench trials are continued to a date not earlier than July 1, 2020, unless explicitly authorized by the Presiding Justice.

COVID -19 Related Calendar

All calendar protocols/orders issued in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as any modifications or amendments, shall remain in full force and effect unless superseded by a subsequent protocol/order.

Finally, the clerks’ offices shall continue to conduct court business in all emergency and non-emergency matters.

Additional requirements apply. To view the complete court order, click here. If you have questions about this court order or any legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at the firm.

2020-06-16T13:41:33-04:00June 10th, 2020|

Remote Technology Has Kept Rhode Island Courts Going

As Rhode Island state courts prepared to slowly return to in-person proceedings on June 1, the judiciary will continue to build on two months of hearings and conferences conducted remotely during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

While two county courthouses remain closed in Newport and Wakefield, the court system itself never shut down. The Rhode Island Supreme Court heard oral arguments in seven cases over May 13 and 14 using the WebEx video conferencing technology.

In the Superior Court, judges and magistrates have held hundreds of telephone and video conferences and remote hearings, largely in business calendar proceedings and other civil matters.

Each Family Court judge has a YouTube channel in which audio and/or video have been available to the public in domestic relations cases.

The Workers’ Compensation Court has heard more than 2,500 cases remotely since March 17 and disposed of 1,268 cases during that period.

More information about the developments can be found here.

If you have any questions about any legal matter or the status of a particular case, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP.

Source: Rhode Island Judiciary

2020-06-09T12:59:46-04:00June 4th, 2020|

James A. Ruggieri: COVID-19 Employment Law Update

The issues and legal concerns that employers face in this new COVID-19 world are numerous and ever-changing in this uncharted environment. Here are a few of the most common issues that we’ve encountered so far.

  • Health insurance and COBRA
  • OSHA obligations
  • Wage and hour considerations
  • Employment policies and practices
  • Reductions in workforce
  • Tailored employment contracts
  • Employee handbooks
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act
  • R.I. Superior Court Business Recovery Plan

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney is well-positioned to assist employers with comprehensive workplace representation as the state embarks on a new pathway to reopening the economy.

The attorneys at the firm are also closely monitoring Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s executive orders as well as all other applicable orders issued by the state’s courts.

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney has remained opened, and responsive to clients’ needs during the pandemic, and will continue to do so.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or any of my colleagues in helping employers, insurance carriers, or third-party administrators navigate the various employment laws or workers’ compensation issues impacting businesses today.

James A. Ruggieri, a longstanding partner with the firm, has maintained a broad-based litigation practice for more than 30 years.

His employment law practice covers a range of issues relative to wage and hour disputes; employment contracts; OSHA compliance; FLMA; hiring, discipline, and terminations; harassment and retaliation; and discrimination claims.

James A. Ruggieri can be reached at jruggieri@hcc-law.com (401-490-3914).

2020-08-25T18:30:41-04:00May 4th, 2020|

R.I. Superior Court Offers Latest Protocols for Scheduling Hearings and Conferences

The R.I. Superior Court has issued additional protocols to enable counsel to request a remote hearing or conference during the COVID-19 crisis.

Pending Motions There are motions that were previously scheduled for hearings on or after March 16, 2020, or that have been filed since March 16, 2020, and have not been assigned hearing dates. If such a motion remains unresolved, any party may request that it be decided on the pleadings or that a hearing on such a motion be held.

Hearings An attorney wishing to schedule a hearing will submit by electronic mail a specialized form to the judge’s clerk. If a hearing is requested, the court will determine whether the hearing will be held remotely during this crisis period or whether it will be given a future hearing date. If the hearing is to take place during the crisis period, the clerk will coordinate the date and time for the hearing among all concerned.

Seven Associate Justices in the Superior Court will be authorized to conduct remote hearings, simultaneously, on any given day. All hearings will be held remotely by WebEx video conferencing, will be recorded by a court reporter, and the audio of the hearing will be made available to the public through YouTube streaming.

Conferences and Requests to Decide Motions on the Papers Attorneys who wish to schedule a conference or have a motion decided on the papers may do so by emailing the judge’s clerk using the same specialized form referenced above. There will be no stenographic record of these conferences.

Decisions on the Pleadings The clerk will enter the court’s disposition of the motion in the docket. Counsel shall submit an order reflecting the disposition of the motion for signature by the judicial officer and the clerk.

Additional requirements apply. A copy of this latest court order is available here. If you have questions about this latest court order or any legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at the firm.

2020-05-04T12:53:40-04:00May 4th, 2020|

Superior Court Establishes New COVID-19 Related Procedures for Business Calendars

As a result of the continuing coronavirus crisis, the R.I. Superior Court issued new protocols on April 21, 2020, for handling motions and hearings at the Business Calendars in Providence County and all outlying counties.

The Business Calendars will now consider all receivership proceedings, pretrial motions, dispositive motions, as well as pretrial and status conferences. These matters will be conducted remotely.

  • For pending motions, which were previously scheduled for hearing on or after March 16, 2020, or which have been filed since March 16, 2020, and not assigned a hearing date, the following conditions apply. If such a motion remains unresolved, any party may request that it be decided on the pleadings or that a hearing be held. If neither party requests a hearing, then the motion will be decided on the pleadings unless the court seeks oral argument.
  • Prior to filing any new motion, a party shall submit to the clerk, by electronic mail, a specific form. If the moving party does not request a hearing, the opposing party may do so by electronic mail. If neither party requests a hearing, then the motion will be decided on the pleadings unless the court seeks an oral argument.
  • All hearings will be held remotely by WebEx® Video conferencing, will be recorded by a court stenographer, and the public will have audio access through YouTube streaming. Once a hearing date is set, attorneys will receive an email invitation to the remote hearing. While WebEx® permits audio-only participation, video participation will be required for any attorney addressing the court. This video call is offered at no cost to the participants. Justice Brian Stern has prepared a 15-minute video on how to use the WebEx® system.
  • As for requesting a conference with one of the justices, a lawyer must first email a specialized form to the justice’s clerk and copy all other counsel. The attorneys will receive a WebEx® conference invitation by electronic mail. In these instances, there is no need for a stenographic record of conferences.

Additional requirements apply. To view the complete court order establishing these protocols and the requisite form for initiating contact with the court, click here.

If you have questions about this court order or any legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at the firm.

2020-04-27T09:35:11-04:00April 24th, 2020|

Insurance Industry Best Practices During the Pandemic

For almost 70 years, the litigation firm of Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney has provided clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut with dedicated representation in all phases of insurance defense and coverage litigation.

Over the years, our team of lawyers has handled numerous cases involving various insurance coverage issues, including cases involving extracontractual liability, claim-handling practices, insurance fraud, breach of contract, intentional torts, and bad faith.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our attorneys are already addressing critical questions that insurance industry officials will inevitably face and the legal claims that are certain to arise from distressed policyholders.

  • What types of business interruption insurance will most likely apply in the COVID-19 crisis?
  • What other insurance recovery claims will probably arise?
  • What defenses might be available to these and related COVID-19 claims?
  • What exclusions might prevent coverage in standard insurance policies?
  • What proven strategies should be considered in COVID-19 related coverage cases?
  • What impact will civil authority orders have on COVID-19 losses?
  • Will the failure to obtain federal assistance be a factor in mitigating damages?

During the months ahead insurance carriers, as well as their in-house counsel, risk managers, and TPAs, will be severely tested while placing unparalleled reliance upon outside counsel to achieve exceptional results, competitive rates, efficient billing practices, and effective case management.

The attorneys and staff at Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney stand ready to assist our insurance industry clients in any way possible.

If you have questions about any recent developments pertaining to the pandemic or any pending legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at the firm. We are always available.

In the meantime, everyone here hopes that you, your colleagues, and your families remain safe during these trying times.

2020-04-23T08:13:35-04:00April 20th, 2020|