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Latest Court Orders Affecting State and Federal Cases in Rhode Island

One of the newest guidelines in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic issued by R.I. Governor Gina Raimondo is Executive Order 20-09 requiring all business service personnel that can work from home to do so.

This Executive Order applies to accountants, lawyers, human resources, and procurement professionals among others. Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney has adhered to this directive in advance of its enactment with no interruption of legal services.

At the same time, the state and federal courts in Rhode Island have issued their own scheduling orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The R.I. Supreme Court has issued multiple Executive Orders:

For Executive Order 2020-05 related to the specific operations of the Supreme Court, click here.

For Executive Order 2020-04 related to all state court operations, click here.

For Executive Order 2020-03 related to duty magistrates and judges of the Superior Court assigned to emergency/essential matters, click here.

For Executive Order 2020-02 related to Workers’ Compensation Court operations, click here.

For Executive Order 2020-01 related to the suspension of Family Court calendars, click here.

The U.S. District Court has also issued a General Order regarding court operations in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, click here.

In addition, the U.S. District Court has issued a subsequent General Order addressing all criminal matters in that court, click here.

Finally, the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Rhode Island has issued a General Order related to the Bankruptcy Court operations, click here.

If you have questions about any of these scheduling orders or any pending legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at the firm.

2020-03-24T12:36:07-04:00March 24th, 2020|

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): An Update To Our Clients

Dear Friends and Clients,

In response to federal and state government guidelines and public concerns over the expansion of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney is implementing a series of preventative measures.

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney offices have transferred almost all business operations remotely for the time being. Given the technology in place, there will be no interruption of legal services during this time and all data will be secured.

Our lawyers and staff will work remotely with easy access to emails and voicemails; meetings will take place using Skype, similar online platforms or conference calling, and all work travel has been suspended. We hope these steps will protect our staff, clients and others, and contribute to the well-being of the communities we serve.

As for court emergencies, we are monitoring the directives of court officials and will inform our clients on a case by case basis on how best to proceed with any essential legal matter.

We thank you for your cooperation during this difficult time and hope that you, your colleagues and your families stay safe.

If you have questions about any of these developments or any pending legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact any of the partners at the firm.

Sincerely,

James A. Ruggieri
Managing Partner
Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP

2020-03-17T17:31:33-04:00March 17th, 2020|

James Ruggieri Recognized by Two Leading Legal Journals

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney is pleased to announce that James A. Ruggieri was recently recognized by Corporate Counsel and The American Lawyer magazines as a “2020 Top Rated Litigator.” The HCC managing partner maintains an active product liability and employment law practice.

The designation by these publications features lawyers who have achieved an AV-Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell©, which is the highest rating obtainable for legal ability and ethical standards.

Corporate Counsel offers news and information for chief legal officers and in-house counsel across the country. The American Lawyer covers the latest developments and other critical issues within the legal profession for attorneys around the globe. The publications have a combined distribution of nearly a quarter of a million readers.

2020-03-12T17:41:21-04:00March 12th, 2020|

HCC To Conduct Blood Drive

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP will be sponsoring a blood drive at the law firm’s Providence offices in memory of the late Gianna Cirella of Warwick who faced a challenge too great to fight.

The blood drive will be held in conjunction with the Rhode Island Blood Center. This marks the second consecutive year that Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney is a proud sponsor of this event. The firm’s lawyers, staff and community members will be participating.

On November 1, 2017, Gianna passed away peacefully surrounded by her family. “Not every story has a happy ending,” said her mother, Tara Cirella, adding “but everyone deserves the fighting chance that blood donors give them.”

Tara Cirella, Gianna’s mother, is a longstanding and highly regarded HCC staff member. She is the firm’s billing and accounts receivable coordinator.

Within days of developing a sore throat, Gianna developed pneumonia and sepsis, a life-threatening infection in her blood. During her 16-day fight for life, she needed 174 blood, platelet and plasma transfusions, which came from Rhode Island Blood Center donors.

“Gianna would not have survived one day without blood. I hope she has make people not afraid to donate. I also hope she has shown how very important it is to give blood,” Tara Cirella said.

For information on donating, contact the Rhode Island Blood Center at 800-283-8385.

For information about the Gina Cirella Memorial Fund, visit www.gistrong.org A video tribute to Gianna can be found at http://bit.ly/GiStrong

2020-03-17T15:36:22-04:00February 20th, 2020|

Attorney Hultman Victorious in Superior Court

Following a recent bench trial in Providence County Superior Court, HCC partner Kristina I. Hultman secured a verdict in favor of the defendant, a major national retailer, in a premises liability case.

Plaintiff claimed ongoing injuries which she alleged were sustained while attempting to select and purchase a watermelon. The plaintiff’s allegations against the defendant, a big-box retailer, were that the watermelons were negligently displayed and stocked in such a manner that it was foreseeable that a customer could be injured while attempting to lift and purchase a watermelon. Attorney Hultman successfully disputed the plaintiff’s claims that the manner in which the produce was displayed for sale constituted a hazardous condition.

The case was originally filed, and tried to a conclusion, in the District Court, where Attorney Hultman had secured a defense verdict. The plaintiff then appealed to the Superior Court for a trial de novo. After hearing testimony from both the plaintiff and a former employee of the defendant, an Associate Justice of the Superior Court deliberated before returning a verdict in favor of the Defendant.

Detailed findings of fact were issued, and the Court ultimately found that the manner in which the watermelons were displayed did not constitute a hazardous condition. The Court further found that, even if there had been a hazardous condition, there was no evidence of causation as the plaintiff had been unable to testify as to the mechanism of her injury.

In addition to maintaining an active civil litigation practice at HCC, Attorney Hultman is the Treasurer of Defense Counsel of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island State Membership Chair of Defense Research Institute (DRI). In 2019 she was named as a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the fifth consecutive year.

2020-02-04T15:47:50-05:00January 24th, 2020|

Attorney Kelsey Peck Joins HCC

Kelsey D. Peck has joined Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney as an attorney in the Litigation Department after having served as a law clerk with the firm for more than two years. She is admitted to practice in the state courts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Kelsey attended Seattle University, graduating magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in 2012. She subsequently earned her J.D. degree, cum laude, from the Roger Williams University School of Law.

Prior to joining HCC, Kelsey served as a judicial extern for Chief Judge William E. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. She also interned at the R.I. Office of the Attorney General in both the Appellate Unit and Child Abuse Unit. In addition, she was a research assistant to both the legal writing specialist and professional responsibility professor at Roger Williams School of Law. During law school, she received a CALI distinction for professional legal writing.

Kelsey was a member of Moot Court and was President of Moot Court during her third year of law school. Kelsey was also the recipient of Best Overall Oral Advocates Award at the UCLA Cyber Crimes Moot Court Competition in Los Angeles. This annual Moot Court competition is open to law schools across the nation, exploring cutting-edge issues in the field of cyber law.

Before entering law school, Kelsey was employed by a leading financial institution as director of business operations.

2019-11-26T14:55:07-05:00November 26th, 2019|

HCC Again Named a Tier 1 Law Firm in Metropolitan Providence 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 received a Tier 1 law firm ranking for Personal Injury – Defendants and Product Liability – Defendants in Metropolitan Providence by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” for 2020.

This marks the seventh consecutive year that Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney has received this Tier 1 designation in these particular practice areas by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®.

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

Firms selected in the 2020 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence as a result of persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

“We are pleased and proud to be recognized once again by our clients and colleagues in such a fashion. This distinction, afforded by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, underscores the depth of our experience and the extent of our legal talent at Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney,” said Managing Partner James A. Ruggieri.

2019-11-01T10:50:18-04:00November 1st, 2019|

Four HCC Attorneys Selected by Super Lawyers, New England

HCC partner Peter E. Garvey was recently recognized in the 2019 edition of Super Lawyers, New England for his expertise in the areas of professional liability, personal injury defense, and insurance defense.

Super Lawyers is a national rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. No more than five percent of the lawyers in Rhode Island receive the “Super Lawyer” designation.

Peter maintains an active litigation practice throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. He also defends businesses in matters of alleged negligence including premises liability, liquor liability and insurance defense. In the process, he has achieved considerable success in defending major retailers and companies involved in the hospitality field.

After graduating from law school, Peter served as a law clerk to justices of the Superior Courts for Connecticut and Rhode Island. He earned his B.A. from the University of Rhode Island and his J.D. from New England School of Law, where he graduated with honors.

In addition to Peter’s selection, partners J. David Freel and Kristina I. Hultman and associate Kurt A. Rocha were chosen as “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers, New England. This marks the fifth consecutive year that both David and Kristina have received this exclusive designation. They were all recognized for their expertise in the field of civil litigation.

J. David Freel represents corporate clients in all phases of litigation within the areas of insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, product liability, and employment law. He earned his B.A., with highest distinction, from the Pennsylvania State University and graduated magna cum laude from Roger Williams University School of Law, where he served as the executive articles editor of the law review. He is admitted to practice in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Kristina I. Hultman focuses her practice on product liability, premises liability, insurance defense, and professional liability. She has had extensive trial experience on behalf of major corporations. She is the Treasurer of the Defense Counsel of Rhode Island and the DRI State Membership Chair for Rhode Island. She graduated from the College of the Holy Cross and received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Roger Williams University School of Law, where she was an editor of the law review. She is admitted to practice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Kurt Rocha’s practice encompasses premises liability, personal injury defense, and insurance law. 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, Kurt worked at leading civil litigation law firms in New England.

Kurt received his law degree from Roger Williams University, cum laude, in 2011. He obtained his B.S. in Criminal Justice from the same institution in 2007, where he also received a Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice in 2011.

To be eligible for inclusion as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers, New England, an attorney must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less.  No more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in any given state receive the designation of a “Rising Star” in any one year.

2019-10-29T16:34:56-04:00October 17th, 2019|

Providence Business News Profiles HCC’s Expansion in Neighboring States

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney’s recent expansion within Massachusetts and Connecticut was the subject of a feature article in the Providence Business News.

The publication also reported on the firm’s depth and breadth in a number of key practice areas in a wide-ranging interview with Managing Partner James A. Ruggieri.

The firm’s relocation of its headquarters to new and expanded office space in downtown Providence was also mentioned. To view the complete article, please click Providence Business News.

2019-10-29T15:44:16-04:00October 4th, 2019|

40 Insurance Professionals Attend HCC Seminar on Using Social Media and Publicly Available Sources to Defend Workers’ Compensation Claims

Higgins Cavanagh & Cooney recently sponsored a seminar titled, “Applying the Latest Social Media Techniques in Defending Workers’ Compensation Claims.”

The keynote speaker was Michele Stuart, who consults and trains law enforcement agencies, the military intelligence communities, the insurance industry as well as numerous Fortune 500 companies and professional sports organizations in open source, social media and cellular security. Her remarks focused on the use of social media and publicly available sources in investigations.

Ms. Stuart has been an instructor at Quantico (FBI Academy) and an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia. Her areas of expertise include open-source intelligence, counter intelligence, insurance fraud investigations, and financial investigations.

James T. Hornstein, Managing Partner of the Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney Workers’ Compensation Department, introduced Ms. Stuart, and Thomas R. Bender, former Associate Counsel at Brown University and now Of Counsel to the firm, concluded the program with an overview of relevant court decisions.

This seminar was designed to address new and emerging issues in social media unique to workers’ compensation practice. This complimentary seminar was the fourth program during the past five years that has been developed by Mr. Hornstein to aid insurance professionals and in-house counsel in defending workers’ compensation claims.

The program was approved for continuing legal education credit by the accrediting body of the R.I. Supreme Court and was held at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, R.I. Forty insurance professionals attended.

Pictured at center is Michele Stuart, President of JAG Investigations, Inc. of Gilbert Arizona. At her right is James T. Hornstein, Esq. Photographed from left are paralegal Marie Parente, Partner Courtney L. Manchester, Esq., Thomas R. Bender, Esq., and Sarah E. Wheeler, Esq.

2019-10-29T15:55:02-04:00September 27th, 2019|