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Rhode Island Supreme Court Decides Property Case Involving Right to Parking Spaces

In a recent property case before the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the court considered a case involving the right to parking spaces in a Rhode Island parking lot. The case arose over parking spaces in a section of Westerly, Rhode Island.

Evidently, In 1985, JHRW LLC transferred ownership of two buildings to Seaport Studios, Inc. (“Seaport”) and at the same time entered into an agreement leasing the land under the buildings to Seaport for 99 years. The lease agreement stated in part that JHRW would lease one parking space to Seaport, that if the premises were submitted to the Rhode Island Condominium Act at any time, JHRW would deed to premises to Seaport, and that the premises were subject to building and zoning restrictions. JHRW later attempted to develop the land which included the land leased to Seaport. It was divided into three units. Unit C was developed into a parking lot, and did not include spaces for Seaport. Seaport later filed a complaint against JHRW alleging that JHRW breached the lease agreement. After a hearing, a court found that JHRW was the rightful owner of the property, and all remaining claims were dismissed.

Shortly after the resolution of the first case, JHRW filed a complaint alleging that two Seaport employees had parked in JHRW’s parking lot, and sought in part to enjoin Seaport’s employees from parking on the land within the unit C condominium. Seaport argued it was entitled to nine parking spaces, and that JHRW unlawfully blocked Seaport’s access to its parking spaces. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff ordering an injunction, enjoining the defendant from parking in spaces owned by the plaintiff, JHRW. The court found that the plaintiff had demonstrated the necessary elements to warrant a permanent injunction.

Seaport appealed, but the appeals court affirmed the judgment granting summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff and enjoining Seaport from parking in the Unit C parking spaces. Under Rhode Island’s summary judgment standard, an appeals court will affirm a court’s decision if, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the appeals court finds there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

In a summary judgment proceeding, the nonmoving party has the burden of proving that there is a disputed issue of material fact. If the nonmoving party cannot point to such an issue, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A significant number of Rhode Island cases are disposed of at the summary judgment stage, thus, preparation for summary judgment litigation is critical.

Contact a Rhode Island Property Lawyer

Real estate litigation can be confusing, contentious, and prolonged. If you need assistance in a Rhode Island property matter, consult with a dedicated real estate attorney with the experience and dedication necessary to effectively resolve your claim without delay. At Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, our attorneys represent clients in Rhode Island real estate cases, such as zoning, adverse possession claims, purchase and sale agreements, title issues, and foreclosures. Our attorneys can assist clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to resolve property issues. To see how our skilled attorneys can help you with your situation, call us at 401-300-4055 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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