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Jury Finds In Favor Of DEM In Social Ocean Case

Superior Court jury returns verdict after seven day deliberation.

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced today that a Providence County Superior Court jury found in favor of the State of Rhode Island in the personal injury case Roy v. State of Rhode Island, DEM, et al.  The jury was in the seventh day of deliberations after a three week trial before Superior Court Justice Susan E. McGuirl.

 The plaintiffs were seeking damages in excess of $40 million dollars against the State of Rhode Island and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) related to the injury Brett Roy suffered in 2008 when he dove into the pond known as Social Ocean, at the .  Roy, 27 years-old at the time of the accident, was paralysed from the neck down.

The jury found that the plaintiff had not proven that the State of Rhode Island 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,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “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 (RIGL 32-6-3), 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 of Rhode Island 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,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. 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.”

Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Partington and Special Assistant Attorney General Adam Sholes handled the case for the State of Rhode Island and DEM.

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