Rhode Island

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Titlesort descending Summary
Andrade v. Westlo Mgmt. LLC The defendants, Westlo Management LLC (Westlo) seek review of a Superior Court order granting partial summary judgment on several counts in favor of the plaintiffs, Curtis W. Andrade and The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (the commission). The defendants assert that the existence of genuine issues of material fact precluded partial summary judgment and that the commission did not have standing to intervene in this matter. The matter stems from a denial of plaintiff's request for a reasonable accommodation at Westlo's property. Prior to moving in to Westlo's low-income property, plaintiff was told by a leasing agent that he was not permitted to have his dog, Enzo, because the dog (a pit bull) was on the complex' restricted breed list. Andrade then informed the leasing manager that the dog was his support animal (although he could not recall at deposition whether he filled out paperwork for an assistance animal). After moving in, he left the dog mostly at his mother's residence, but did bring the dog to his residence in December of 2011. While the dog was there, an incident occurred with another resident in a hallway near the elevators. Andrade testified that his dog never made physical contact with the resident, while the other resident claims the dog charged at him and pinned him to a wall. This resulted in a report being made to the building manager who then informed Andrade the dog was not allowed on the premises. Andrade then discussed the need for a support animal with his doctor who agreed and wrote a note stating that Andrade “would benefit in having a dog due to his medical condition[.]” The building manager rejected this request in a letter citing the breed ban and the recent incident with the dog. After a subsequent refusal by the building manager, Andrade filed a charge of discrimination with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. After unsuccessful settlement discussions with the parties, Westlo initiated eviction proceedings against Andrade for non-payment of rent and the commission issued a right-to-sue letter. Andrade then filed the instant lawsuit and a hearing justice granted the commission's right to intervene. The complaint against Westlo raised the unlawful denial of full and equal access to housing and public accommodations based on Andrade's disability and unlawful retaliation by eviction, among other things. After cross-motions for summary judgment by both parties, the hearing justice granted plaintiffs motion for summary judgment finding that Westlo had discriminated against Andrade. However, she found there to be a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the dog had requisite training. Further, she refused to interfere with the order granting the commission's motion to intervene. The justice also acknowledged that she had misstated that the request for the reasonable accommodation had occurred before the elevator incident with the other resident. As a result, she declined to make a finding of fact on that issue. On defendants' appeal of summary judgment, defendants argue that the issue of whether an accommodation is reasonable under the FHA is a factual one and thus it was error for the hearing justice to make those determinations. The Supreme Court looked at the similar language of both the federal FHA and the state FHPA. While the court found that plaintiff met the definition for disability under the laws and that defendant was made aware of plaintiff's need for reasonable accommodation, it was troubled by the "direct threat" posed by the dog. Specifically, the court found issue with the date mix-up in the initial hearing for the incident with the dog an other resident. Therefore, due to the highly fact-specific nature of the assessment of an assistance animal as well as the conflicting evidence presented, this court disagreed with the hearing justice and concluded summary judgment was not appropriate. Further, the court found a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the dog was "necessary" to fully enjoy his dwelling since benefit of dog as it relates to plaintiff's disability was not fully described and the dog lived away from plaintiff for a year. As to the challenge to the motion to intervene, the court found Westlo failed to obtain the transcripts necessary to review the issue. Thus, this court quashed that portion of the Superior Court order that grants the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment “as to the [l]iability of Westlo Management, on [c]ounts 1, 2, 3, and 7[.]” The record was remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.
Detailed Discussion of Rhode Island Great Apes Laws


This discussion analyzes the laws relevant to the possession of great apes in Rhode Island. The paper examines categories of individuals who possess great apes including persons using them as pets, exhibitors, zoos, sanctuaries, and circuses.

DuBois v. Quilitzsch


After a dog injured a city inspector during an inspection of a property, the inspector sued the homeowners. Inspector alleged strict liability, premises liability, and negligence. The Supreme Court entered summary judgment for the defendants on the premises-liability and negligence claims because the inspector failed to show that homeowners had knowledge of their dog's vicious propensities. These claims were subject to the common law one-bite rule (and not strict liability) because the injuries occurred within an enclosed area on the owner’s property.

Giarrusso v. Giarrusso This Rhode Island Supreme Court case centers on a disagreement among former spouses concerning the ex-husband's visitation with their two dogs acquired during marriage. Before the Court is an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After review, the Court concluded that cause was not shown and affirmed the order of the Family Court. The couple entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) formalizing the terms of the dissolution of Diane and Paul Giarrusso's marriage and giving Diane all title and interest to the dogs and Paul twice a week visitation. The weekly visitation proceeded according to the agreement for over a year, when Diane ceased allowing Paul's visits. Paul then filed a motion for post-final judgment relief citing breach of the agreement and Diane counterclaimed. A justice of the Family Court held a hearing on the issue, where each party testified and submitted associated texts and emails. In one recounted incident, a dog was missing for some time at Paul's house. Ultimately, the dog was found to be accidentally locked in a closet. At the conclusion of the hearing, Diane argued that the justice should withdraw approval for the MSA because Paul failed to care for the dogs and showed bad faith, while Paul argued that Diane had breached the terms. The hearing justice affirmed the visitation schedule of the MSA, denied Diane's requested relief, and awarded attorney fees to Paul. On appeal here, Diane argues that the hearing justice was "clearly wrong and overlooked material evidence when she found that Paul had acted in good faith." In particular, Diane contends that the dogs are chattel and Paul failed to provide safe conditions and return them to her in an undamaged condition. The Supreme Court held, in noting that the MSA retains the characteristics of a contract, that it would not overturn the hearing justice's determination in absence of mutual mistake in the contract (the MSA). There was no mutual mistake in the MSA's visitation provision and no basis for the hearing justice to conclude that the MSA needs to be reformed. Further, this court found no evidence of bad faith on Paul's part and that the hearing justice's findings were support by the evidence. Thus, it was not inequitable to enforce the visitation term in the MSA as written. The order of the Family Court was affirmed and the matter returned to Family Court.
Rhode Island Public Laws 1857-1872: Chapter 912: An act for the prevention of cruelty to animals. A collection of the laws concerning cruelty to animals from Rhode Island for the years 1857-1872. The act covers such topics as bird fighting, cruelty to animals, enforcement of the act, and procedural issues concerning the act.
RI - Assistance Animals - Consolidated Assistance Animal Laws The following statutes comprise the state's relevant assistance/service animal laws.
RI - Cats - Chapter 22. Cat Identification Program and Chapter 24. Permit Program for Cats These Rhode Island section is entitled the "Cat Identification Program." Under this law, cats are required to display some form of identification (tag, tattoo, etc.) in an effort to reduce the feral/stray cat problem. The law reduces the retention period for cats impounded without some form of identification.
RI - Central Falls - Breed - Sec. 8-162. - Pit bulls unlawful.


In Central Fall, Rhode Island, it is unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport, or sell any pit bull dog, with exceptions for dogs already registered and licensed, for animal shelters, and participants in dog shows. The owner of a pit bull must be at least 21 years old, must carry liability insurance of at least $100,000, prove the dog was spayed or neutered, and post a "PIT BULL DOG" sign. Violation of this ordinance may result in a fine of $250 (first offense) to $1,000 (third offense) and imprisonment up to 30 days. The dog may also be impounded and destroyed.

RI - Cruelty - Consolidated Cruelty Laws (Chapter 1. Cruelty to Animals) These Rhode Island statutes comprise the state's anti-cruelty and animal fighting provisions. The cruelty law provides that whoever overdrives, overloads, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, or cruelly beats, mutilates or kills any animal is subject to imprisonment up to 11 months, or a fine of $50.00 - $500, or both. The intentional cruelty provision expands the penalty to 2 years possible imprisonment or a fine of $1,000, or both.
RI - Dangerous Dog - § 4-13.1-9. Penalties for violation--Licensing ordinances and fees This Rhode Island statute provides that a vicious dog may be confiscated by a dog officer and destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner after the expiration of a five day waiting period if an owner does not secure liability insurance, have his or her dog properly identified, or properly enclose/restrain the dog. If any dog declared vicious under Sec. 4-13.1-11, when unprovoked, kills, wounds, or worries or assists in killing or wounding any described animal, the owner shall pay a five hundred fifty dollar fine. The dog officer is empowered to confiscate the dog. The statute further provides that municipalities may enact vicious dog licensing ordinances and provide for impoundment of dogs that violate such ordinances. It also outlines other actions owners of vicious dogs must take, including the posting of vicious dog signs and the maintenance of proper insurance.

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