DANIEL REALE ET AL.
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND ET AL.
May 23, 2019
to recover damages for the spoliation of evidence, and for
other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial
district of Windham, where the court, Cole-Chu, J.,
granted the defendants' motions to dismiss and rendered
judgment thereon, from which the named plaintiff appealed to
this court; thereafter, the court, Cole-Chu, J.,
denied the named plaintiff's motion for articulation;
subsequently, this court granted the named plaintiff's
motion for review, but denied the relief requested therein.
Reale, self-represented, the appellant (named plaintiff).
Michael W. Field, assistant attorney general for the state of
Rhode Island, with whom, on the brief, was Peter F. Neronha,
attorney general for the state of Rhode Island, for the
appellee (named defendant).
M. Richard, for the appellee (defendant town of Coventry).
Keller, Elgo and Harper, Js.
spoliation of evidence action, the plaintiff Daniel
Reale appeals from the judgment of dismissal
rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant town of
Coventry, Rhode Island (town), and the state defendants, the
state of Rhode Island; the Rhode Island Department of
Children, Youth, and Families; Investigator Harry Lonergan;
and Attorneys Brenda Baum and Diane Leyden, on the ground of
a lack of personal jurisdiction. On appeal, the plaintiff
claims that the court erred in (1) determining that the state
defendants did not waive their right to seek dismissal for
lack of personal jurisdiction by concurrently moving to
strike the plaintiff's complaint as an alternative to
dismissal, and (2) granting the state defendants' motions
to dismiss on the ground of a lack of personal
jurisdiction. We affirm the judgment of the court.
following facts, as set forth in the trial court's
memoranda of decision and procedural history are relevant to
our resolution of this appeal. ‘‘The plaintiff is
a Connecticut resident and father of two children who has
joint custody with his ex-wife, who, during the pertinent
time, was a resident of Rhode Island. In June, 2016, two
neglect petitions were commenced against the plaintiff by the
Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families
arising from an allegation by a school psychologist employed
by the town . . . that the plaintiff's son suffered a
gunshot wound . . . .'' ‘‘That incident
was investigated by the Coventry, Rhode Island, Police
Department, which determined that no crime, abuse or neglect
the ‘‘neglect petitions terminated in favor of
[the plaintiff] and his ex-wife in August, 2016, and
September, 2016, respectively.'' ‘‘The
plaintiff subsequently joined a civil action against the
town, inter alia, in the United States District Court for the
District of Rhode Island . . . .'' In the federal
action, ‘‘[the plaintiff] claim[ed] he suffered
damages from [the] defendants' wilful withholding,
concealment and destruction of evidence, including documents
and other records, internal communications, recordings and
expert opinions during and since the prosecution of the . . .
petitions against him, despite notice by [the plaintiff] . .
. instructing said defendants . . . to preserve and produce
such evidence.'' The federal action subsequently was
dismissed with prejudice.
January 3, 2018, [the plaintiff] . . . filed this action
against [the state defendants] for spoliation of evidence. On
February 5, 2018, the [town] moved . . . to dismiss count one
of the [plaintiff's] complaint . . . or, in the
alternative, to strike count one based on (1) the bar of res
judicata; and (2) the claim that the legal basis for the
plaintiff's claim-spoliation of evidence- does not exist
under governing law, i.e., the law of the state of Rhode
Island.'' (Citation omitted; footnote omitted.) A day
later, ‘‘the [state defendants] moved . . . to
dismiss the [plaintiff's] complaint for [a] lack of
personal jurisdiction or, in the alternative, to strike the
complaint based on (1) the prior pending case doctrine; (2)
lack of service of process; and (3) the claim that there is
no cause of action for spoliation of evidence under governing
law, i.e., the law of Rhode Island.''
February 20, 2018, the [plaintiff] filed a joint objection
and memorandum of law . . . in opposition to the [state
defendants'] [motions] to dismiss . . . [and] the town
filed a reply brief.'' ‘‘On February 22,
2018, [the state defendants] filed a reply brief.''
On July 24, 2018, the trial court granted the state
defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, finding that the plaintiff failed (1) to allege
sufficient facts to subject the town to this state's
jurisdiction under General Statutes § 33-929 (f), the
long-arm statute for foreign corporations, and (2) to
establish that General Statutes § 52-59b, the long-arm