Paralyzed man loses suit against Rhode Island

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 6, 2011, 1:54pm


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) - Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced Monday that a state jury found in favor of the State in a case of a man who was paralyzed from the neck down after diving into a state park pond.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the Providence County Superior Court jury was in its seventh day of deliberations after a three-week trial.

The plaintiffs, Brett A. Roy and his wife Dawn, were seeking damages in excess of $40 million against the State and the Department of Environmental Management related to Roy's injury suffered in 2008 when he dove into a pond located at the World War II Memorial State Park in Woonsocket.

The jury found that the plaintiff had not proven that the State was liable for his injuries.

"We are very pleased with the jury's verdict. It shows they closely examined all the evidence in this case and it will encourage the State to keep parks and other places open without a fee," Kilmartin said in a statement. "I thank the jury for their thoughtful and careful deliberations in understanding the myriad of complicated legal and emotional issues that were presented during the trial."

The State predicated its case on the Rhode Island Recreational Use Statute, which states that an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use that property for recreational purposes does not thereby: extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose; confer upon that person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; nor assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to any person or property caused by an act of omission of that person.

The State did not charge a fee to enter the World War II Memorial Park.

"The Department of Environmental Management is pleased with the able representation that was offered by Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Partington and Special Assistant Attorney General Adam Sholes in their successful defense of the State's interests in this matter," DEM Director Janet Coit said in a statement Monday.

"Although I am personally saddened by the tragedy suffered by the Roy family, I believe that the verdict is correct, and reinforces the public's obligation to employ personal responsibility when determining how to utilize the recreational facilities that the State has made available to them."

Partington and Sholes handled the case for the State and DEM.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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