Adams v. McKee, 030520 RISUP, PC-2011-2275

Docket Nº:C. A. PC-2011-2275, PP-2019-09966
Opinion Judge:GIBNEY, P.J.
Party Name:GEORGE H. ADAMS, III, Personally and GEORGE H. ADAMS, III, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF GEORGE H. ADAMS, IV v. HALEY McKEE, Alias, RICHARD P. McKEE, Alias, BENEFIT REALTY, INC., CHRISTIAAN OF RHODE ISLAND, INC., STEPHEN R. MILLER HOUSE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, ATWELLS REALTY CORP. d/b/a CLUB DESIRE, CITY OF PROVIDENCE, by and through its ...
Attorney:For Plaintiff: George P. Hovarth, Esq.; Amata A. Deluca, Esq.; Michael F. Horan, Esq. For Defendant: Gerard M. Decelles, Esq.; William F. White, Esq.; Mark P. Dolan, Esq.; Michael A. Calise, Esq.; Keith Hoffmann, Esq.; Dennis S. Baluch, Esq.; Thomas C. Plunkett, Esq.; Kate C. Brody, Esq.; Neil F....
Case Date:March 05, 2020
Court:Superior Court of Rhode Island
 
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GEORGE H. ADAMS, III, Personally and GEORGE H. ADAMS, III, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF GEORGE H. ADAMS, IV

v.

HALEY McKEE, Alias, RICHARD P. McKEE, Alias, BENEFIT REALTY, INC., CHRISTIAAN OF RHODE ISLAND, INC., STEPHEN R. MILLER HOUSE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, ATWELLS REALTY CORP. d/b/a CLUB DESIRE, CITY OF PROVIDENCE, by and through its Treasurer, JAMES L. LOMBARDI, III, STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, by and through its Department of Transportation and its Defendant Director, MICHAEL P. LEWIS, JOHN DOE CORPORATION, Alias and JOHN DOE, Alias

C. A. No. PC-2011-2275

No. PP-2019-09966

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Providence

March 5, 2020

For Plaintiff: George P. Hovarth, Esq.; Amata A. Deluca, Esq.; Michael F. Horan, Esq.

For Defendant: Gerard M. Decelles, Esq.; William F. White, Esq.; Mark P. Dolan, Esq.; Michael A. Calise, Esq.; Keith Hoffmann, Esq.; Dennis S. Baluch, Esq.; Thomas C. Plunkett, Esq.; Kate C. Brody, Esq.; Neil F.X. Kelly, Esq.; Rajaram Suryanarayan, Esq.

DECISION

GIBNEY, P.J.

Before this Court is Plaintiff George H. Adams III's (Plaintiff) Motion to Approve and Enforce Settlement and Motion to Consolidate, Defendant Melinda Adams' (Defendant)1Motion to Intervene and Motion to Dismiss, and Defendant Atwells Realty Corp. d/b/a/ Club Desire's Motion to Seal Hearing Transcript. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 33-23-1(b).

I

Facts and Travel

On February 17, 2011, the Plaintiff's son George H. Adams IV (the Decedent) was struck by a car while walking along the side of a road and died intestate shortly thereafter. On April 7, 2011, the Central Falls Probate Court (the Probate Court) appointed Plaintiff as Administrator of the Decedent's estate (the Estate). Defendant previously petitioned the Probate Court to appoint her as Administratrix of the Estate. Her petition was denied. (Probate Hearing Transcript (Tr.) at 20:1-15, May 2, 2019.) On April 22, 2011, Plaintiff brought claims for wrongful death and loss of consortium against ten defendants (the Wrongful Death Defendants).

Plaintiff eventually reached a settlement agreement with all Wrongful Death Defendants. On January 16, 2019, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Wrongful Death Defendants with a proposed apportionment of the settlement. (Def.'s Probate Misc. Pet. Ex. A, Re: Estate of George H. Adams IV, No. 8541, Feb. 12, 2019.) Plaintiff suggested an apportionment of $100, 000 to the Estate and the remainder to Plaintiff for his loss of consortium. Id. On February 12, 2019, Defendant filed a Miscellaneous Petition with the Probate Court alleging that Plaintiff's proposed apportionment "violated his fiduciary duty as Administrator of his late son's estate" because it allocated much of the settlement to his loss of consortium claim. (Def.'s Probate Misc. Pet. at 2.)

On April 18, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Approval of Settlement of Action (Petition for Approval) with the Probate Court seeking its approval of the overall settlement and proposed apportionment. (Pl.'s Pet. for Approval, Re: Estate of George H. Adams, IV, No. 8541 at 1, Apr. 18, 2019.) The Probate Court held a hearing on May 2, 2019 (the Hearing). At the Hearing, Defendant confirmed that she was only challenging the proposed allocation to the Estate and had no objection to the overall settlement. (Tr. at 5:10-14.) Defendant argued that Plaintiff had a responsibility as a court-appointed fiduciary to ensure that any settlement allocation to the Estate was fair and equitable, and that the proposed apportionment was not fair and equitable. Id. at 6:20-7:16. In response, Plaintiff contended that the wrongful death statute limited damages recoverable by the Estate to medical expenses and diminution of earning power. Id. at 8:4-11. Both Plaintiff and Defendant submitted expert reports as to the Decedent's loss of future earnings. Id. at 28:20-29:19.

Thereafter, on May 2, 2019, the Probate Court denied Plaintiff's Petition for Approval and stated that Plaintiff could "refile petition to substantiate the allocation of settlement proceeds with further evidence and documentation." (Probate Court Order at 1, May 2, 2019.) Plaintiff filed another Petition for Approval on July 29, 2019, which the Probate Court again denied. (Probate Court Order at 1, Sept. 4, 2019.) Plaintiff appealed this denial to the Superior Court on October 2, 2019, and now brings a...

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