Buffi v. Ferri, No. 628-M

CourtRhode Island Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJOSLIN
Citation259 A.2d 847,106 R.I. 349
Parties, 35 A.L.R.3d 852 Angela BUFFI v. John G. FERRI. P.
Decision Date12 December 1969
Docket NumberNo. 628-M

Page 847

259 A.2d 847
106 R.I. 349, 35 A.L.R.3d 852
Angela BUFFI
v.
John G. FERRI.
No. 628-M.P.
Supreme Court of Rhode Island.
Dec. 12, 1969.
Reargument Denied Feb. 12, 1970.

[106 R.I. 355]

Page 848

Herbert F. DeSimone, Atty. Gen., Charles G. Edwards, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.

Milton Stanzler, Philip Weinstein, Richard W. Zacks, Providence, for amicus curiae, Rhode Island Affiliate of American Civil Liberties Union.

H. Seymour Wiley, Providence, for amicus curiae, Equal Opportunities Group, Chandler W. Johnson, John R. Kellam, Frederick M. Clark, Jr., Rev. E. McKinnon White.

Vincent A. Ragosta, Providence, for defendant.

OPINION

[106 R.I. 350] JOSLIN, Justice.

Angela Buffi complained to the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (then known as the Commission Against Discrimination) that her landlord had evicted her because she was associating with a Negro. The landlord denied the charge. The Commission believed the complainant, decided that her rights under the Fair Housing Practices Act (G.L.1956, chap. 37 of title 34) had been violated, and issued a cease and desist order. The landlord appealed, and the Superior Court reversed, holding that the eviction of a tenant because of association with a Negro was not proscribed by the Act. We granted the Commission leave to file a petition for certiorari, and requested the parties to argue, inter alia, the question of standing. R.I., 248 A.2d 784. We find that the Commission had standing and that the landlord did not violate the Act.

Review of Superior Court judgments in matters of this kind is regulated by the pertinent section of the Administrative Procedures Act. (G.L. 1956, § 42-35-16, as amended by P.L.1966, chap. 213, sec. 1). It provides that a party in [106 R.I. 351] interest, if aggrieved by a final Superior Court judgment, may petition this Court for a writ of certiorari to review questions of law. Under this statute, as well as

Page 849

under others providing for a judicial review of administrative agency determinations, '* * * aggrievement results when the order, decision, or decree adversely affects in a substantial manner some personal or property right of the party or imposes upon it some burden or obligation.' New England Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Fascio, R.I., 254 A.2d 758 at 761-762. This interpretation of what constitutes 'aggrievement,' like most rules of general application, has its exceptions. One permits an agency itself to seek review, even though not technically aggrieved, if the public has an interest in the issue which reaches out beyond that of the immediate parties. Board of Police Com'rs of City of Warwick v. Reynolds, 86 R.I. 172, 178, 133 A.2d 737, 741; Tedford v. Reynolds, 87 R.I. 335, 341, 141 A.2d 264, 267; DeCesare v. Board of Elections, R.I., 242 A.2d 421, 426. (Joslin and Kelleher, JJ., dissenting)

In this case, quite clearly no personal or property right of the Commission has been adversely affected, nor has any burden or obligation been imposed upon it. Just as clear, however, is the public's vital concern that no person be denied housing accommodations because of his race or color, or because of his religion or country of ancestral origin. This public interest in the removal of the hateful barriers of discriminatory practices based upon race, color, religion or ancestry is substantial and very real; it transcends and reaches out beyond the interest of the individuals involved. In order to protect that interest the Commission, representing the people and acting for the general public, acquired standing to seek review of a Superior Court judgment which otherwise might have gone unreviewed.

Turning from the procedural to the substantive issue, we make clear initially that we do not condone the landlord's [106 R.I. 352] conduct. To discriminate against a person because of the race or color of those with whom he associates is, in our judgment, no less racism and no less despicable than is discrimination against a person...

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47 practice notes
  • BOARD OF SUP'RS v. Bd. of Zoning Appeals, No. 032390.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 5, 2004
    ...in the zoning context, "`aggrievement'" has "both a personal and a public sense." Id. at 917 (quoting Buffi v. Ferri, 106 R.I. 349, 259 A.2d 847, 849 "Aggrievement" in the personal sense ... calls for an actual and practical, as distinguished from a theoretical......
  • Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County v. Board of Zoning Appeals of Fairfax County, Record No. 032390 (VA 11/5/2004), Record No. 032390.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 5, 2004
    ...in the zoning context, "`aggrievement'" has "both a personal and a public sense." Id. at 917 (quoting Buffi v. Ferri, 259 A.2d 847, 849 (R.I. "Aggrievement" in the personal sense . . . calls for an actual and practical, as distinguished from a theoretical, inte......
  • Matunuck Beach Hotel, Inc. v. Sheldon, Nos. 76-429-A
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • March 27, 1979
    ...to a "personal or property right," nor imposition of a "burden or obligation." Not long thereafter, in Buffi v. Ferri, 106 R.I. 349, 259 A.2d 847 (1969), we faced a slightly different issue. The question there was whether the Commission for Human Rights had standing unde......
  • Champlin's Realty Associates v. Tikoian, C.A. No. PC 06-1659 (R.I. Super 2/23/2009), C.A. No. PC 06-1659.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • February 23, 2009
    ...the public interest is affected. City of East Providence v. Shell Oil Co., 110 R.I. 138, 143, 290 A.2d 915, 918 (1972); Buffi v. Ferri, 106 R.I. 349, 351, 259 A.2d 847, 849 (1969). That the Legislature has designated concern for our coastal resources a matter of great public interest is evi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • BOARD OF SUP'RS v. Bd. of Zoning Appeals, No. 032390.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 5, 2004
    ...in the zoning context, "`aggrievement'" has "both a personal and a public sense." Id. at 917 (quoting Buffi v. Ferri, 106 R.I. 349, 259 A.2d 847, 849 "Aggrievement" in the personal sense ... calls for an actual and practical, as distinguished from a theoretical......
  • Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County v. Board of Zoning Appeals of Fairfax County, Record No. 032390 (VA 11/5/2004), Record No. 032390.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 5, 2004
    ...in the zoning context, "`aggrievement'" has "both a personal and a public sense." Id. at 917 (quoting Buffi v. Ferri, 259 A.2d 847, 849 (R.I. "Aggrievement" in the personal sense . . . calls for an actual and practical, as distinguished from a theoretical, inte......
  • Matunuck Beach Hotel, Inc. v. Sheldon, Nos. 76-429-A
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • March 27, 1979
    ...to a "personal or property right," nor imposition of a "burden or obligation." Not long thereafter, in Buffi v. Ferri, 106 R.I. 349, 259 A.2d 847 (1969), we faced a slightly different issue. The question there was whether the Commission for Human Rights had standing unde......
  • Champlin's Realty Associates v. Tikoian, C.A. No. PC 06-1659 (R.I. Super 2/23/2009), C.A. No. PC 06-1659.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • February 23, 2009
    ...the public interest is affected. City of East Providence v. Shell Oil Co., 110 R.I. 138, 143, 290 A.2d 915, 918 (1972); Buffi v. Ferri, 106 R.I. 349, 351, 259 A.2d 847, 849 (1969). That the Legislature has designated concern for our coastal resources a matter of great public interest is evi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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