The plaintiff Stephen Limoges claimed that he suffered significant pulmonary injuries as a result of inhaling the toxic fumes following a chemical spill. Plaintiffs brought suit against three different entities, including Arden Engineering Constructors LLC, alleging that they were individually and collectively responsible for Limoges’s injuries. Mr. Limoges was an employee of the State of Rhode Island as an Assistant Administrator to Facilities and Operations. His duties included overseeing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) in the state’s courthouses. The Limoges lawsuit claimed that on August 8, 2008, a pipe that carried bromine in the HVAC system at a judicial complex in Providence ruptured causing a chemical spill. When this pipe burst, Mr. Limoges rushed to the scene to stop the leak. Limoges asserted that while he was trying to stop the leak, he inhaled bromine which caused his serious pulmonary injuries. Limoges’ wife was a party plaintiff in this case claiming loss of consortium.
Arden Engineering filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial level judge granted. Limoges appealed, arguing that that the court made an improper credibility assessment about the affidavit of the Limoges expert and because the judge overlooked material issues of fact that were in dispute. Arden had argued that the Limoges expert’s affidavit was false and that the expert did not provide a basis for his opinions. Arden maintained that this expert’s affidavit was completely failed to identify one fact which would make Arden responsible, let alone owe a duty to Limoges.
Limoges argued that the expert’s affidavit was sufficient to establish duty and breach, particularly at the summary-judgment phase of the proceedings.
The state Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that the plaintiff’s expert’s affidavit, combined with the documents that were available to the hearing justice, raised a material issue of fact as to whether Arden Engineering was responsible for Limoges’s injury. The attorney representing the Limoges family was Amato A. DeLuca of Providence, RI.