Nine HCC Attorneys Acknowledged for Professional Excellence in Law by Rhode Island Monthly

HCC would like to congratulate James. A Ruggieri, Paul S. Callaghan, Peter E. Garvey, Stephen P. Cooney, Gerald C. DeMaria, Melissa M. Horne, Meagan M. Bellamy, Lauren E. Moore and Alexander Prinscott for their recognition by Rhode Island Monthly for Professional Excellence in Law.

June 1st, 2023|


HCC is pleased to announce the addition of Todd D. Amaral as a law clerk in our Providence office. Todd is a rising 3L at Roger Williams University School of Law where he is a member of the Law Review Editorial Board, Honors Program, and a two-time Sea Grant Law Fellow. He graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Arts in International relations and received his MBA from Providence College. Previously, Todd worked in corporate finance, internal audit, and fraud prevention. Welcome, Todd! We are proud to have you on board!

May 31st, 2023|

HCC participates in Annual 5k

It was a beautiful Mother’s Day celebrating the annual Gianna Cirella Memorial 5k race/walk with both past and present HCC team members. It was a great cause, with great people, and a great day to share with everyone.

For more information regarding this very worthwhile charity for sepsis awareness, please visit gistrong.org.

May 16th, 2023|

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney Secures Directed Verdict for Parent Company of Restaurant Franchisee

HCC partner Peter E. Garvey and associate Adrianna Hughes recently secured a directed defense verdict in a six-figure premises liability “slip and fall” in Bristol County Superior Court in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Honorable Judge Jackie Cowin, presiding, granted the motion on the basis that the defendant lacked the requisite control over the subject premises to be held liable for any negligence alleged by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff contended that the defendant, a parent company of the restaurant location where plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell, was negligent in failing to maintain the premises by allowing water to remain in an area of the restaurant. At trial, however, Garvey and HCC associate Adrianna Hughes established that the defendant was a mere parent company who lacked control or possession of the restaurant, and that plaintiff had also to prove any conduct by the defendant that warranted a “piercing of the corporate veil” to hold it liable through its subsidiary.

Ruling from the bench, the Honorable Judge Cowin agreed that plaintiff had failed to put forth any evidence that the defendant was negligent or that it should be held vicariously liable for any alleged negligence of its subsidiary. She directed a verdict in the defendant’s favor.

April 24th, 2023|

Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney Attorney Perseveres to Win $2.9 Million Judgment

HCC attorney Melissa M. Horne recently won a $1,164,138 jury verdict on a claim originally filed in the Newport Probate Court in June 2012. During the nearly 11-year proceeding of the case captioned Glassie v. Doucette, NP-2016-0265, the case was appealed twice to the Superior Court and once to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Prejudgment interest accrued during the protracted litigation resulted in a judgment of almost $2.9 million.

The claim was originally filed by the decedent’s daughter, who alleged her father had failed to fully fund a trust for her as required by a Property Settlement Agreement executed as part of her parents’ divorce. The executor of the father’s estate denied the claim. After the plaintiff appealed the claim to the Superior Court, the executor obtained summary judgment on the ground that only the trustee of the daughter’s trust had standing to bring a claim for payments that should have been made to the trust. The Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court’s order.

Because the original plaintiff had passed away shortly after she appealed the denial of her claim to the Superior Court, her executrix pursued and eventually obtained an assignment of the trustee’s right to assert a claim for payments to the trust. Following the executor’s objection to the plaintiff’s petition to file a late-filed claim, the probate court denied the petition. The plaintiff filed another appeal in the Superior Court. The executor’s violations of discovery rules delayed the litigation and resulted in sanctions being paid to the executrix. In January 2022, Attorney Horne finally obtained a Superior Court decision granting the petition to file late-filed claim after a bench trial conducted in September 2021. Glassie (click here for the judge’s decision)

The issue tried to the jury in March 2023 involved the interpretation of an ambiguous provision in the Property Settlement Agreement that required the father to make payments of $10,000 per year to his daughter’s trust until it was equal to the amount of trusts his mother had established for two older daughters. The jury found that the father had breached his contractual obligation to make his younger daughter’s trust equal to the value of her sisters’ trusts. The jury concluded that the last opportunity he had to fulfill his obligation was shortly before his death in February 2011, when the older daughter’s trust was valued at $1,296,819.06 and the younger daughter’s trust was worth just $132,680.63. The jury awarded $1,164,138 in damages.

The jury also decided a counterclaim asserting that the daughter’s claim violated an in terrorum clause in the father’s will. That clause provided that a beneficiary of the will would forfeit her entire interest under the will if she became an adverse party in a proceeding for the probate of the will or contested the validity of the will or any of its provisions. The jury concluded that this action did not violate the in terrorum clause and rendered a verdict for the plaintiff on the counterclaim.

HCC’s successful navigation of this litigation involving complex legal and procedural issues in three different courts over the course of more than ten years reflects the firm’s dedication to utilizing its expertise and resources to obtain extraordinary results for its clients.

If you have any matter involving contract or probate litigation you would like to discuss with Attorney Horne, she may be reached at mhorne@hcc-law.com or 401-272-3500.

April 17th, 2023|