Rhode Island Supreme Court Dismisses Tenant Appeal

By Patrick J. McBurney December 30, 2019Court Decisions

In a recent Rhode Island Supreme Court decision, the Court summarily dismissed a residential tenant’s appeal due to the tenant’s failure to continue to pay rent during the pendency of the appeal. This requirement, which is set forth in section 34-18-52 of the Rhode Island General Laws, is often the downfall of a tenant’s appeal in either the Superior or Supreme Court.

The matter before the Court was Naughton v. Guilloteau et al., No. 2019-6-Appeal, where the plaintiff/landlord brought an eviction against the defendant/tenant in the District Court. The District Court entered judgment for the landlord, and the tenant appealed that decision to the Superior Court. After a hearing at the Superior Court, judgment once again entered for the landlord. Undeterred, the tenant filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, while the appeal was pending before the Supreme Court, the tenant failed to continue to pay rent to the landlord. Because of this failure, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court.

This case highlights a critical, but oftentimes unknown, provision of the Rhode Island General Laws regarding landlord tenant disputes. That provision states that during the pendency of an appeal, whether residential (§ 34-18-52) or commercial (§ 34-18.1-18), the tenant must continue to pay rent to the landlord or else risk having judgment enter against them. Anyone that finds themselves embroiled in a landlord-tenant dispute needs to be mindful of this requirement. For further information on this issue, please contact Attorney Patrick J. McBurney at 401-824-5100 or email pmcburney@pldolaw.com.




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Patrick J. McBurney is an Associate with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC and a member of the Corporate & Business and Litigation Teams. He is an accomplished zoning and land use lawyer and litigator with significant experience helping clients navigate through the complex areas of federal, state and municipal policies and regulations regarding permitting, variance approvals and other zoning-related compliance matters such as special permitting applications, land acquisition and public project development. His successful litigation practice includes representing clients from pre-trial investigation and discovery to preparing motions and pleadings through trial, settlement and the appeal process. Attorney McBurney’s practice also includes administrative and contract law including resolving breach of contract claims and mechanic lien disputes. He has extensive experience in the public and private sectors, including the construction industry, and routinely represents clients before state courts and agencies as well as municipal boards and authorities. Attorney McBurney earned his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and was Associate Managing Editor of the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review. He is a recipient of CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Constitutional Law. He served as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Associate Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and for the Honorable Associate Justice Michael Silverstein of the Rhode Island Superior Court. He graduated with a B.A. in Government from St. John’s University in Queens, New York, magna cum laude. He is admitted to practice law in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. To contact Attorney McBurney, call 401-824-5100 or email pmcburney@pldolaw.com.

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