Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney is pleased to announce that Courtney L. Manchester, J. David Freel and Kristina I. Hultman have become partners of the firm.
Courtney L. Manchester defends insurance companies, leading employers throughout the state, and international corporations on workers’ compensation cases. She appears regularly on behalf of clients in matters involving domestic relations before the R.I. Family Court. Additionally, she has expertise interpreting long-term disability contracts. She received her B.A with honors in English from Wesleyan University and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law. She is admitted to practice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She joined the firm in 2012 after five years of active practice.
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. He joined HCC in 2011.
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 also holds leadership positions in the Defense Counsel of Rhode Island and the Defense Research Institute. 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. She joined the firm in 2010.
ADRIANNA HUGHES has joined HCC as an Associate in the Litigation Department. She is admitted to practice before the state courts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts as well as the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. She previously was employed as an attorney with a regional, Boston-based law firm where she gained valuable litigation experience.
Adrianna is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton and a graduate of Boston College Law School. She began her legal education at Suffolk University Law School during which time she received the Best Oral Advocate Award – Legal Practice Skills, Best Brief Award – Legal Practice Skills, and Jurisprudence Award – Property II.
During law school, Adrianna served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard T. Tucker of the Massachusetts Superior Court. Before law school, she was employed as a paralegal at law firms in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Rhode Island Bar Association and Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association.
U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers recently released their “Best Law Firms” selections for the State of Rhode Island.
Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP (HCC) was named once again as one of the “Best Law Firms,” while achieving special recognition in the areas of personal injury litigation defense and product liability litigation defense.
This marks the sixth consecutive year that HCC has been named among the “Best Law Firms.” During this entire time, the firm also has received “Tier 1” recognition for personal injury litigation defense and product liability litigation defense in Rhode Island from U.S. News & World Report and 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 2019 “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. Achieving a first-tiered ranking reflects a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. This recognition, afforded by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, underscores the depth of our experience and the extent of our litigation talent which extends throughout Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney,” said Managing Partner James A. Ruggieri
HCC partner Peter E. Garvey was recently recognized in the 2018 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 from more than 70 practice areas 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 are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers, New England to receive the “Super Lawyer” designation.
Peter maintains an active litigation practice throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. He also defends businesses in other matters of alleged negligence including premises liability, liquor liability and general 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 is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and the New England School of Law, where he graduated with honors.
In addition to Peter’s selection, J. David Freel and Kristina I. Hultman were chosen as “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers, New England. This marks the fourth consecutive year that both David and Kristina have received this exclusive recognition.
David represents primarily national and regional corporate clients before and throughout all phases of litigation generally within the areas of insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, product liability, and employment law. He has successfully defended insurance companies against claims of breach of contract and bad faith, and has authored numerous opinions on insurance coverage issues. He has also handled complex construction law cases and has participated in their settlement negotiations and arbitrations. He was also a member of the legal team that defended a high-stakes wrongful death case in federal court in Massachusetts involving aviation law.
He is admitted to practice in the state courts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, as well as the U.S. District Courts for Rhode Island and Massachusetts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He previously served as a law clerk in the Rhode Island Supreme Court’s Law Clerk Department. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the Roger Williams University School of Law where he served as Executive Articles Editor of the Roger Williams University Law Review. Prior to law school, David graduated with highest distinction from the Pennsylvania State University.
During the past year, Kristina secured a significant jury verdict in favor of the defendant, a major national transportation company. Her impressive courtroom victory followed a six-day jury trial in which Kristina received several notable rulings at trial. She secured rulings limiting the scope of the testimony of the plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert; excluding all evidence of the plaintiff’s loss of future earning capacity; and excluding several of the plaintiff’s fact witnesses. In addition, she obtained a ruling that excluded records and bills from many of the plaintiff’s medical providers in which hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages were sought.
Her practice focuses on product liability, premises liability, insurance defense and professional liability. In preparing for trial, Kristina has garnered extensive experience in arguing numerous dispositive and discovery motions and is well-versed in all aspects of pre-trial discovery.
Kristina also holds leadership positions in the Defense Counsel of Rhode Island and Defense Research Institute (DRI). 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 Associate Editor of the Roger Williams University Law Review. She is admitted to practice in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
To be eligible for inclusion as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers, New England, a candidate 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.
HCC attorney Melissa M. Horne recently won a precedent-setting homestead exemption case against the City of Woonsocket. In the process, the court awarded her clients their attorney’s fees as a result of the city’s violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act.
Attorney Horne’s clients own a parcel of property that contains a primary residence as well as a barn that had been converted to a one-bedroom residence occupied by the client’s grandparents. They sought a special use permit from the city’s zoning board to use the secondary structure as an accessory family dwelling unit.
The tax accessor had initially applied a thirty percent, single family homestead exemption to the total value of the plaintiffs’ property. Thereafter, a new city tax accessor applied a lower two-family exemption to the property. That decision subsequently was appealed to the Woonsocket Tax Board of Assessment Review, which affirmed the Assessor’s decision.
On appeal to the Superior Court, Attorney Horne argued that the property should be classified as a single family residence and, therefore, is entitled to the higher single family exemption. The city countered that the additional dwelling made the property a two-family property and deserved a higher property tax.
The judge agreed with Ms. Horne’s argument, noting that the terms “single family” and “two-family” are not specifically defined within state law authorizing the homestead exemption or the city ordinance discussing the homestead exemption.
The judge found that the physical characteristics of both the primary and accessory residences fit the plain meaning of a single family dwelling. “The fact that there are multiple single-family dwellings on the same plot of land is of no significance to the issue posed by this litigation,” the judge said. He declared that the single family homestead exemption should apply to the assessed value of the primary residence and the land on which the two buildings sit, but decided the accessory dwelling unit was not entitled to any homestead exemption because it is not owner occupied.
Concurrently, Attorney Horne argued that the Board of Assessment Review violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by not deliberating on the appeal in public and failing to maintain minutes and record the votes of the Board’s members. The Court agreed and awarded Attorney Horne’s clients their attorney’s fees incurred in successfully proving a violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act.
Melissa M. Horne is Of Counsel to Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney, LLP. The litigation was heard before Superior Court Judge Bennett R. Gallo. The 13-page decision is Roberts v. Pare, et al., C.A. No. PC-2017-2410.
This case has garnered significant attention and was a cover story in Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly. Attorney Horne told that publication: “My takeaway is that improved statutory and ordinance language would perhaps have alleviated the need for this case. The case offered a good example of what can happen when statutes and ordinances do not get updated to reflect changes in housing uses,” she said. In the absence of such statutory updates, this case is precedent-setting relative to the homestead exemption applicable to accessory family dwelling units.
If you have any matter involving land use law or the Open Meetings Act that you would like to discuss with Attorney Horne, she can be contacted at email@example.com or 401-272-3500.