Partners Bill Staar and Ralph Suozzo and Associate Lauren Jenkins obtained summary-judgment in the USDC R.I., which disposed of all punitive-damage claims in aauto death case. The two vehicles involved had been driving side-by-side on a highway, and the central issue in the case is which vehicle drifted into the lane of the other to initiate contact and cause the subject accident. The plaintiff argued that punitive damages were justified by (1) our driver’s lack of sleep (awake for 20 hours), (2) our driver’s alleged failure to check his mirrors frequently enough just prior to the accident, and (3) our driver’s poor pre-hire driving record.  Granting the motion from the bench, the Court ruled that such behavior, even if true, would not rise to “malicious,” “intentional,” and “criminal” behavior, which is required for a viable punitive-damages claim in Rhode Island.