Vaudreuil v. Nelson Engineering and Const. Co., Inc.

Decision Date30 March 1979
Docket NumberNo. 77-216-A,77-216-A
Citation399 A.2d 1220,121 R.I. 418
PartiesGerald B. VAUDREUIL d/b/a Mercury Construction Company v. NELSON ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., et al. ppeal.
CourtRhode Island Supreme Court

DORIS, Justice.

The plaintiff, Gerald Vaudreuil (Vaudreuil), has appealed from a Superior Court order affirming the report of a special master. The special master found that the plaintiff's claim against the defendant, American Employers' Insurance Company (American), under a labor and materials payment bond, was barred because of the plaintiff's failure to comply with the one-year period of limitations contained in the bond. We affirm.

The facts are not in controversy. The defendant, Nelson Engineering and Construction Co., Inc. (Nelson), was constructing the Ann & Hope building in Warwick. On December 4, 1970, American, acting as surety, issued bonds including a bond for labor and materials. This bond contained a clause stating that any action on the bond must be commenced within one year after the principal ceased work on the project. The bond also designated Nelson as principal. On January 20, 1971, Vaudreuil, as subcontractor, entered into a construction contract with Nelson, which contract provided that Nelson would pay Vaudreuil $41,400 for labor and materials. Nelson completed working on the project in October 1971. On December 17, 1974, Vaudreuil brought this action on the bond in Superior Court, naming Nelson and American as defendants.

Pursuant to Rule 53 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure, the case was referred to a special master for findings of fact and conclusions of law. The special master found that Vaudreuil had been paid $40,626, leaving a balance due of $774 plus a claim for extras not governed by the 1971 contract. The master further granted American's motion to dismiss because of Vaudreuil's failure to bring the action within the one-year period of limitations. Accordingly, the master awarded Vaudreuil $3,495 against Nelson. Subsequently, Nelson entered into receivership. In accordance with Super.R.Civ.P. 53(e), Vaudreuil filed a motion in Superior Court objecting to the portion of the master's report that dismissed the complaint against American. The trial justice affirmed the order of the special master and Vaudreuil appealed to this court.

Vaudreuil readily concedes that he commenced this action long after the one-year period had expired. He contends, however, that G.L.1956 (1969 Reenactment) § 34-28-30 1 invalidated the one-year proviso contained in the bond, and therefore this action is governed by the general six-year statute of limitations found in § 9-1-13. Vaudreuil places particular emphasis upon our decision in Providence Electric Co. v. Donatelli Building Co., 116 R.I. 340, 346, 356 A.2d 483, 486 (1976), holding that § 34-28-30 abrogated the notice requirements of labor and material bonds.

When construing statutory provisions, we are bound to ascertain the intent of the Legislature and to effectuate that intent whenever it is lawful and within legislative competence. Id. at 116 R.I. 346, 356 A.2d at 487; Narragansett Racing Association v. Norberg, 112 R.I. 791, 793-94, 316 A.2d 334, 335 (1974); Town of Scituate v. O'Rourke, 103 R.I. 499, 507, 239 A.2d 176, 181 (1968). When a statute is unambiguous, however, and does not contradict an evident legislative purpose, there is no room for statutory construction. See, e. g., Reardon v. Hall, 104 R.I. 591, 595, 247 A.2d 900, 902 (1968); Kastal v. Hickory House, Inc., 95 R.I. 366, 369, 187 A.2d 262, 264 (1963). In such a situation, the import of a statute will not be extended. See Brier Manufacturing Co. v. Norberg, R.I., 377...

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21 cases
  • Gott v. Norberg
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • July 8, 1980
    ...We must give effect to ascertainable legislative intent whenever it is within legislative competence. Vaudreuil v. Nelson Engineering and Construction Co., R.I., 399 A.2d 1220 (1979). In Daniels Tobacco Co. v. Norberg, 114 R.I. 502, 335 A.2d 636 (1975), we determined that the Legislature in......
  • Castelli v. Carcieri, No. PC 07-6322 (R.I. Super 7/31/2008)
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Superior Court
    • July 31, 2008
    ...statutory provisions, the Court must ascertain and effectuate the intent of the Legislature. Vaudreuil v. Nelson Engineering and Const. Co., Inc., 399 A.2d 1220, 121 R.I. 418 (R.I. 1979). The Court first should examine the plain meaning of the statute. Gem Plumbing ad Heating v. Rossi, 867 ......
  • Doe, In re, s. 79-92-A
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • January 28, 1982
    ...Beaudoin v. Petit, R.I., 409 A.2d 536, 539 (1979); State v. Angell, R.I., 405 A.2d 10, 15 (1979); Vaudreuil v. Nelson Engineering And Construction Co., R.I., 399 A.2d 1220, 1222 (1979). I submit that the legislative language that the majority concedes is "carefully crafted" amply demonstrat......
  • State v. Duggan
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • May 9, 1980
    ...intent controls judicial interpretation when it is ascertainable and within legislative competence. Vaudreuil v. Nelson Engineering and Construction Co., R.I., 399 A.2d 1220 (1979); Little v. Conflict of Interest Commission, R.I., 397 A.2d 884 (1979). The Legislature's power to prescribe th......
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