Fast Five: Rhode Island Practice Group - January 2014

by Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.


This term, the Rhode Island Supreme Court spilled much ink on the final judgment rule.  See Maciel v. Davey, No. 2012-222-Appeal and Baker v. Mitchell, No. 2013-17-Appeal.  In two orders the Court dismissed interlocutory appeals based on the appellant’s failure to appeal from a final judgment.  This edition of the Fast Five on Rhode Island Appellate Practice is devoted to the “final judgment rule.”


As a general rule, orders entered by a trial court are not appealable until the case has concluded and a final judgment has entered.  This principle, known as the “final judgment rule,” is codified at R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-24-1, which provides that an appeal may be taken only from a “final judgment, decree or order of the superior court.”  The rule is premised on notions of judicial efficiency and is designed to prevent the piecemeal adjudication of disputes.  See R.I. Econ. Dev. Corp. v. Parking Co., L.P., 892 A.2d 87, 95 (R.I. 2006) (citing Industrial Nat’l Bank v. Colt, 224 A.2d 900, 902 (R.I. 1966)). 


There are both common law and statutory exceptions to the final judgment rule.  The Court “may hear an appeal from an interlocutory order if public policy considerations warrant or if immediate action is necessary in order to avoid imminent and irreparable harm.”  Furtado v. Laferriere, 839 A.2d 533, 536 (R.I. 2004) (citing Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. v. Dial Media, Inc., 410 A.2d 986, 989 (R.I. 1980)).  In addition, an interlocutory order may be considered final for purposes of appeal if the order (1) grants or continues an injunction, (2) appoints a receiver, (3) orders the sale of real or personal property or (4) orders or denies a new trial after a trial by jury.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-24-7.

Correspondingly, Rule 54(b) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure allows an interlocutory order in a case involving multiple claims or multiple parties to be certified as an appealable final order if the Superior Court determines that there is no just reason for delay. 

Furtado, 839 A.2d at 536 (citing R.I. Super. Ct. R. Civ. P. 54(b)). 


In an order this term, the Rhode Island Supreme Court made clear that an appeal from a grant of summary judgment in favor of only one of multiple defendants is interlocutory in nature unless judgment has entered in favor of that defendant pursuant to Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b).  Maciel v. Davey, No. 2012-222-Appeal.  In Maciel, the Superior Court granted one defendant’s motion for summary judgment but denied that defendant’s motion for entry of judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b).  Id. at 1.  Although final judgment never entered, the plaintiff filed an appeal.  Id.  After a Rule 12A conference, the Supreme Court dismissed plaintiff’s appeal.  Id. at 2.  In doing so, the Court noted that “[a]n appeal from an order that grants a motion for summary judgment is considered interlocutory and not final for purposes of appeal.”  Id. at 1 (citing Furtado, 839 A.2d at 536).  While the Court “may hear an appeal from an interlocutory order if public policy considerations warrant or if immediate action is necessary in order to avoid imminent and irreparable harm,” none of those exceptions were implicated in MacielId. Consequently, the Court dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal.  Id. at 2. 


In Baker v. Mitchell, No. 2013-17-Appeal, the Supreme Court denied and dismissed the defendant’s appeal and remanded the record to the Superior Court after concluding that the final judgment rule was not satisfied. 

In the underlying partition action, the Superior Court entered an order continuing a hearing on a motion to sell the property at issue and, in doing so, stated that no further continuances would be allowed without the potential for sanctions.  Id. at 1.  One of the defendants appealed from that order, maintaining that the conditions set forth in the Superior Court’s order were unwarranted and prejudicial.  Id. at 2. 

On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the defendant’s appeal was interlocutory and, therefore, not reviewable at this time.  Id.  In doing so, the Court emphasized that it “has steadfastly maintained that, with very few exceptions, ‘it will entertain a direct appeal only from a final judgment,’” that completely terminates the litigation between the parties.  Id. at 2 (quoting Martino v. Ronci, 667 A.2d 287, 288 (R.I. 1995)).  While there is an exception for orders of the sale of real or personal property, such exception was inapplicable because the Superior Court’s order merely continued the date for the sale of real property and, consequently, an order directing that the property be sold had not entered.  Therefore, defendant’s interlocutory appeal was improper.


A final judgment must be set forth on a separate document.  See R.I. Super. Ct. R. Civ. P. 58(a); see also Furtado, 839 A.2d at 535-36.  A notice of appeal from a final judgment encompasses not only the judgment, but also all earlier interlocutory orders that merger into the judgment.  See Greensleeves, Inc. v. Smiley, 942 A.2d 284, 290 (R.I. 2007).

Written by:

Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.