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Superior Court Denies Motion for Stay Pending Cert Petition

The Superior Court has denied defendant's motion to stay the case while it petitions the Supreme Court to issue a writ of certiorari. Defendant requested the stay while it sought Supreme Court review of the Superior Court's decision vacating a dismissal for lack of prosecution.

The Court said the standard for a stay was the same whether a party was appealing a judgment pursuant to Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 62 or petitioning for a writ of certiorari pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 8(a). The court should consider whether the movant has made a "strong showing" of these factors: (1) it will prevail on the merits of its appeal; (2) it will suffer irreparable harm if the stay is not granted; (3) no substantial harm will come to other interested parties; and (4) a stay will not harm the public interest. The factors are not prerequisites all of which must be met. Rather the court must consider whether all of the factors, weighed together, favor granting a stay.

In this case, the Court determined that the dismissal for lack of prosecution was improper because the case had not been "inactive...for five years or more." R.I.G.L. 9-8-5(a). Accordingly, defendant was unlikely to prevail on appeal. The Court rejected defendant's argument that the expenses of litigation constituted irreparable harm. Irreparable harm is something that will upset the status quo causing some irretrievable and inequitable action. On the other hand, substantial harm will come to the plaintiff if the stay is granted because his case has already been pending for more than a decade and a stay would further delay the proceedings. The Court said defendant had failed to show a stay would not harm the public interest, though it did not explain this finding.

Lawrence v. Western Mass Blasting Corp., W.C. 2003-0600, slip op., (R.I. Super. Oct. 1, 2013).

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