Lentz quoted in Lawyers Weekly article on RI Supreme Court ‘excusable neglect’ ruling

PROVIDENCE (May 4, 2015) – W. Parish Lentz was quoted in the May 4 issue of Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly concerning a recent Rhode Island Supreme Court decision allowing a review of a Probate Court judge’s denial of a guardianship despite a party’s failure to meet the deadline for completing an appeal.

The court in a 3-2 decision overturned a lower court’s refusal to allow the appeal to proceed. The majority ruled that the party demonstrated “excusable neglect” because of the Probate Court’s inability to transmit needed records by the deadline for completing the appeal.

The dissenting opinion asserted that the ruling “greatly relaxed” the excusable neglect standard of proof, and also disregarded the factual findings of the lower court judge.

However, Lentz questioned whether the ruling lowered the excusable neglect standard.

“Clearly, the majority felt like the probate clerk was asked to prepare the record, and they just didn’t do it,” Lentz said in the article.

He also said the case will be useful to attorneys faced with the daunting task of arguing excusable neglect on behalf of a client.

“If you need to rely on excusable neglect, this decision definitely helps you out,” he said. “I do think there is something to the dissent saying that the majority didn’t completely defer to Superior Court justice, that they didn’t really use the abuse-of-discretion standard.”

Lentz focuses his practice on estate and trust planning and administration, as well as business formation and ongoing representation of corporate clients, including non-profit entities.

About Barton Gilman

Barton Gilman is one of New England’s leading civil litigation law firms with offices in Boston and Providence. Its experienced trial attorneys appear regularly in the federal and state courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The Providence Business News named the firm as one of Rhode Island’s Best Places to Work in 2014.