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Rhode Island Court Records

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Contract Disputes and Property Disputes in Rhode Island

Contract disputes in the State of Rhode Island occur over failed contractual obligations or terms while property disputes are as a result of real or personal property conflicts. The court where a breach of contract or property dispute action may be filed depends on the amount in controversy. Generally, there are two courts charged with handling contract and property disputes in Rhode Island: the District Court and Superior Court. Cases for monetary relief not exceeding $5,000, are filed with the District Court whereas claims over $10,000 and equity matters are filed with the Superior Court. However, the two courts have concurrent jurisdiction over civil actions between $5,000 and $10,000.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are Contract Disputes in Rhode Island?

Contract disputes in Rhode Island refer to disagreements between signees (individuals or businesses) on the terms and conditions of a contract that is legally enforceable in the State. At times, these disputes can lead to persons filing claims in the courts for relief or compensation. However, it may be possible to resolve disputes informally, without going to court, by mediation or arbitration.

What are the Most Common Contract Disputes in Rhode Island

Some common types of contract disputes that occur in Rhode Island arise from:

  • Landlord-tenant agreements, including disputes relating to rent, security deposits, and rental/lease agreements
  • Employment contracts or agreements
  • Business agreements, including contractor/subcontractor agreements and supplier contracts
  • Government contracts
  • Financial agreements
  • Real estate agreements
  • Purchase-sale agreements

What is Rhode Island Contract Law?

The Rhode Island contract law is a set of statutes covering the formation of contracts and lawsuits arising from breaches of such contracts. Under the law, a contract is a legal agreement between parties such as individuals and corporations/businesses (both public and private). This agreement can be entered into in writing or verbally but must be valid and legally enforceable in the State. As established in Rhode Island Supreme Court’s opinions and orders, a contract is enforceable when there is a mutual assent (an offer and acceptance) of a contractual obligation between two competent parties, a breach of that obligation, and damages incurred from that breach.

What is a Breach of Contract in Rhode Island?

A breach of contract refers to any failure to fulfill terms or conditions set out in a contract, whether those terms are expressly stated or implied. The law covering actions resulting from these breaches, as well as limitations to claims, is codified as Title 9, Chapter 9–1 of the Rhode Island General Laws.

What are the Remedies for a Breach of Contract in Rhode Island?

When a contract is breached and a claim filed with the courts, remedies may be awarded to non-breaching parties in Rhode Island. The aim is to put an aggrieved party in a position likened to if the contract had been performed. These remedies could include monetary compensation, performance of a specific obligation by the breaching party, and termination or reformation of the contract. For remedies to be granted, the contract must be valid in the eyes of the law and the plaintiff must be able to show evidence that the damage occurred as a result of the breach. Also, as seen in Tomaino v. Concord Oil of Newport, Inc., 709 A.2d 1016, 1026 (R. I. 1998), plaintiffs have a legal duty to make reasonable efforts to mitigate or reduce damages. Parties who intentionally fail to do so, by keeping quiet while damages accumulate, will likely not recover damages in court. Typically, breach of contract claims must be brought within 10 years of the cause of action (R. I. G. L. § 9–1–13).. However, for claims on contracts under seal or claims for a court judgment, this statutory limit is 20 years (R. I. G. L. § 9–1–17)..

What Defenses Can Be Used Against a Breach of Contract Claim in Rhode Island?

Under Rhode Island law, defendants in breach of contract claims can use certain legal defenses to be released from the responsibility of the damages sought by plaintiffs. However, a defendant must assert, with competent evidence, that any or some of the elements below occurred; thereby, preventing that person from fulfilling the obligations of the contract:

  • Estoppel: when there is a promise made by the defendant to do something and the defendant fails to do it
  • Illegality of contract
  • Frustration of purpose
  • Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
  • Accord and satisfaction
  • Waiver
  • Statute of limitations
  • Contributory negligence
  • Statute of frauds
  • The defendant cannot enter a contract. Commonly used when the defendant is a minor or mentally incapacitated
  • The contract is fraudulent
  • The defendant was coerced or pressured to contract
  • Negligent misrepresentation
  • Lack of consideration
  • Unilateral or bilateral mistake
  • Damages recoverable are limited by the contract

What are Property Disputes in Rhode Island?

A property is any real (land/land-related) or personal (tangible/intangible) possession. When an individual or business has conflict over these items with another party, it is referred to as a property dispute in the State of Rhode Island.

What Are Some Common Types of Property Disputes in Rhode Island?

Common types of property disputes that occur between residents and property owners in Rhode Island are as follows:

  • Purchase and sale agreement claims
  • Boundary and property line disagreements
  • Landlord-tenant conflicts
  • Mechanical liens
  • Real estate disputes
  • Adverse possession actions
  • Disputes involving condominiums
  • Easement or right of way disputes
  • Trespass and ejectment
  • Property damage, including vehicle-related pothole claims
  • Replevin actions

How to Find Property Lines

Property lines are legal demarcations between individual real properties. These lines are instrumental in finding the points where properties start and end. Knowledge of where property lines are comes in handy when erecting fences or installing extra home features such as trees, gardens, hedges, driveways, and pools. Furthermore, property lines prevent disputes such as trespassing or encroachment into another person’s property.

An individual may find property lines on the property deed, plat map, or survey. It may be worthwhile to hire a land surveyor if there is no existing and recent survey to avoid confusion, misunderstanding, or litigation, as property lines can change over time. Property owners can also inspect plat maps at local assessor offices or with Geographic Information System (GIS) tools provided by these offices.

How do I Find a Property Dispute Lawyer Near me?

In Rhode Island, the Online Lawyer Referral Service helps members of the public find lawyers capable of handling property dispute cases. This service, provided by the Rhode Island Bar Association, allows anyone to consult with a lawyer for 30 minutes or less, at no cost. If a lawyer’s last or first name is known, an individual may use the Attorney Directory to find the lawyer’s full name, city, email, address (and map), and firm. Other resources necessary to find a property dispute lawyer in Delaware are also available to the public.

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