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    Melissa E. Darigan

    Melissa E. Darigan

    Melissa E. Darigan


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    • Catholic University of America, J.D., 1992

    • George Washington University, B.A., 1989

    Bar Memberships & Admissions

    • Rhode Island, 1992
    • Massachusetts, 1993
    • U.S. District Court, Rhode Island, 1993
    • U.S. District Court, Massachusetts, 1993
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, 1997
    • U.S. Supreme Court, 1997

    Melissa is a partner in Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP’s Litigation Practice Group. She represents insurance companies, financial institutions and corporations in commercial, business and regulatory litigation in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts state and federal courts and before administrative agencies, with a focus on the defense of complex matters alleging breach of fiduciary duty, violation of federal and state law, breach of contract and improper policies and practices. 

    Melissa also specializes in contested trust and estate litigation in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts superior and probate courts, including will and trust contests, accounting proceedings, fiduciary liability claims, disputes over distribution, and interpretation, modification and reformation of instruments. She further advises fiduciaries on trust administration strategies designed to avoid litigation.

    A Providence native, Melissa joined the Firm upon graduation from law school. For more than 15 years she chaired the Litigation Practice Group, and now serves on the Firm’s three person Executive Committee. Melissa is a mentor in the Firm’s Mentoring Program and co-founded a Firm initiative designed to help women in the Firm and the Rhode Island business community advance professionally. She is a frequent speaker on litigation risk management and best practices, insurance regulations and compliance and trust and estates administration.

    Melissa is Past President of the Rhode Island Bar Association (2015-2016) and has been actively involved in leadership of the Bar for more than a decade as a member of the Executive Committee and House of Delegates and for many years as a member and chair of the Superior Court Bench/Bar Committee.


    • Ranked as a leading attorney in commercial litigation in Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in 2018
    • Honored by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as a 2016 Top Women of Law
    • Named Best Lawyers’ 2015 and 2016 Providence Litigation – Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year
    • Recognized by Providence Business News as the 2016 Business Women Professional Services Industry Leader
    • Recognized for three years in a row as one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation by Legal Media Group
    • Recognized as a Litigation Star by Benchmark: Litigation, a Guide to America's Leading Business Litigation Firms and Attorneys
    • Selected by her peers as a Rhode Island Super Lawyer
    • AV® Preeminent Rated from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating on both legal ability and ethics based upon the confidential opinion of peers and judges
    • Named a Providence Business News 2005 40 Under Forty Honoree

    Representative Cases


    • Represented insurance company in a regulatory complaint brought by a local fire department resulting in withdrawal of all claims.
    • Successfully resolved insurance coverage dispute over payment of substantial litigation costs incurred in prior litigation.
    • Defended insurance company in state-wide consumer class action in a unique case involving parallel proceedings in state and federal court resulting in favorable settlement.
    • Obtained dismissal in precedent setting case involving the interplay between the jurisdiction of regulatory agencies and private contract claims.
    • Advised insurance company in comprehensive regulatory investigation and examination.
    • Obtained dismissal of 23-count complaint against title company alleging breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation, obtaining money by false pretences.
    • Represented insurance company in rate hearing before administrative agency in which requested rate increases were approved.
    • Successfully represented insurance company in administrative action challenging contractual relationships with auto body repair shops.
    • Defended title insurance company in action alleging civil RICO violations in which all charges were dismissed.
    • Represented insurance producers in a complex administrative license revocation proceeding resulting in favorable settlement.
    • Defended insurance company in consumer class action alleging systemic violations of law and contract in the insurer’s claims settlement practices resulting in favorable settlement.

    Trusts and Estates

    • Successfully settled numerous contested actions alleging trustee’s breach of fiduciary duties to beneficiaries (representing the beneficiary in some instances and the fiduciary in others).
    • Negotiated favorable settlement for trustee in breach of fiduciary duty and breach of loyalty claims arising from financial markets collapse.
    • Advised fiduciaries and secured court orders releasing them from liability in numerous complex trust accounting matters.
    • Represented beneficiaries and obtained favorable settlement in claims against estate for improper distribution of tangible property.
    • Secured court order confirming trustee’s authority over challenge by beneficiary.
    • Obtained court orders allowing cy pres relief in several cases.
    • Obtained approval of comprehensive estate plan for guardians of incapacitated ward.
    • Secured appointment of a guardian in heavily contested guardianship action.
    • Secured approvals for modification and/or termination of irrevocable trusts in numerous court proceedings.
    • Obtained reformation of trust department’s entire trust portfolio upon corporate restructure.
    • Successfully defended executor in companion cases to invalidate will and trust for lack of capacity and undue influence.
    • Successfully settled action on behalf of heirs to invalidate will and trust for lack of capacity and undue influence.
    • Obtained favorable order on competing claims to a joint bank account.
    • Represented executor in inter-related probate, state and federal court actions involving fraud and insolvency.
    • As mediator, successfully settled breach of fiduciary duty action.


    • Obtained jury trial verdict for defendant national bank in case alleging forgery and fraud.
    • Obtained bench trial verdict for defendant national bank in case alleging wrongful foreclosure.
    • Guided national bank to successful settlement of dispute arising from failure to follow internal practices and procedures.
    • Successfully defeated claims of violations of state and federal banking laws brought against national bank in six interrelated actions in federal district court, bankruptcy court and the state trial and appellate courts.
    • Represented financial institution in precedent setting cases involving core banking procedures.
    • Reached favorable settlement for financial institution in action alleging conversion.
    • Successfully defended numerous financial institutions in wrongful foreclosure and eviction actions in state, federal, district and housing courts.
    • Reached favorable settlement for national bank in breach of contract and deceptive trade practices claims.


    • Obtained dismissal of sexual abuse claims on grounds of statute of limitations on behalf of corporate defendant (decision cited as one of the “The Most Important Opinions – January-June 2016” by Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly).
    • Defended professional association and secured dismissal of claims in action alleging wrongful license suspension.
    • Arbitrated breach of contract claims for foreign corporation resulting in a significant award that was upheld on appeal.
    • Advised national corporation in complex receivership proceedings resulting in favorable settlement.
    • Successfully defended corporation in claim to redeem shares.
    • Advised corporation on contract rights and remedies under asset purchase agreement resulting in settlement.
    • Served as arbitrator in matter alleging breach of numerous commercial laws.

    Representative Publications

    • “Employment Practices Liability Insurance: Traps for the Unwary”
      The Anchor – Third Quarter 2017
    • Two-year Policy Limitation on Bringing Suit Upheld
      The Anchor, Case Law Notes, Second Quarter 2017
    • Insurer is not Liable for Prejudgment Interest
      The Anchor, Case Law Notes, First Quarter 2017
    • Emails and Text Messages: More Scary Than You Think
      The Anchor, Fourth Quarter 2016
    • Text Message Creates a Contract
      The Anchor, Case Law Notes, Fourth Quarter 2016
    • Insurer Can Challenge Arbitration Award Only Under Limited Circumstances
      The Anchor, Case Law Notes, Third Quarter 2016
    • “President’s Message: Addressing Our Profession’s Challenges”
      The Rhode Island Bar Journal – May/June 2016
    • “President’s Message: Planning for Change”
      The Rhode Island Bar Journal – March/April 2016
    • Cyber Preparation Moves to Main Street
      The Anchor First Quarter 2016
    • “President’s Message: Giving and Receiving at the Bar Association”
      The Rhode Island Bar Journal – January/February 2016
    • Insurance for Sharing
      The Anchor Fourth Quarter 2015
    • “President’s Message: Changes in How We Practice; Limited Scope Representation is Here”
      The Rhode Island Bar Journal – November/December 2015
    • “President’s Message: Dealing with Change”
      The Rhode Island Bar Journal – September/October 2015
    • “Defending DBR Enforcement Actions”
      The Anchor – Third Quarter 2015
    • “President’s Message: Facing Up To Change”
      The Rhode Island Bar Journal – July/August 2015
    • Sexual Harassment Claims – An Ounce of Prevention Equals a Pound of Cure
      The Anchor, Second Quarter 2015
    • RI Supreme Court Establishes When Causes of Action Accrue under UM/UIM Policies
      Case Notes, The Anchor, First Quarter 2014
    • Federal Reform to Flood Insurance Impacting the Ocean State Case Notes
      The Anchor, Fourth Quarter 2013
    • Mediation Available for Hurricane Claims
      The Anchor, Third Quarter 2013
    • Things to Consider before Taking on the Role of Trustee
      Partridge Snow & Hahn, Stepping Stones, September 2013
    • 'Permission' vs. 'Entitlement'” - Questions Raised Under Automobile Policy Exclusions Where The Operator Is Not “Entitled” To Drive
      The Anchor, First Quarter 2013
    • Help Your Customers Avoid Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors
      The Anchor, Fourth Quarter 2012
    • Legislative Wrap-Up
      The Anchor, Third Quarter 2012
    • It’s Hurricane Season Again; Help Your Customers Ready Themselves
      The Anchor, Second Quarter 2012
    • Enforcement of Rhode Island Insurance Laws
      The Anchor, First Quarter 2012
    • Dual Agency: To Whom Do You Owe a Legal Duty
      The Anchor, Fourth Quarter 2011
    • Weigh Risks of Social Media in the Workplace
      Providence Business News, August 2011
    • Social Media in the Workplace: Why You Should Care
      The Anchor, Second Quarter 2011
    • “Enforcement of Rhode Island Insurance Laws”
      The Anchor – First Quarter 2011
    • There’s Still Time to Make that New Year’s Resolution: Get Your Records Retention Plan in Place
      Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP Take Note E-Alert, January 2011
    • Is Your Email Marketing CAN-SPAM Act Compliant?
      The Anchor, Fourth Quarter 2010
    • TGIF: Thank Goodness I'm the Fiduciary
      Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP Take Note E-Alert, December 2010
    • Protecting Your Customers’ Private Financial Information
      The Anchor, Third Quarter 2010
    • Flood Insurance – Protect Yourself from Errors and Omissions Claims
      The Anchor, Second Quarter 2010
    • Your Insurance Company Terminates Your Contract – What Can You Do?
      The Anchor, First Quarter 2010
    • “Carrying Out Your Legal Duties to the Insurer: Agency Contracts”
      The Anchor – Third Quarter 2009
    • “Protecting Your Insured and Your Agency: Diligence in Preparing Applications”
      The Anchor – Second Quarter 2009
    • “Legal Duties Owed by Independent Insurance Agents Under Rhode Island Law”
    • The Anchor – First Quarter 2009“
    • “Optional Business Entity Licensing with the Department of Business Regulation”
      The Anchor – Third Quarter 2008
    • “Back on the Record with Rhode Island Records Retention”
      The Anchor – Second Quarter 2008
    • ESI Management and E-Discovery: Successful Strategies,
      Inside the Minds: e-Discovery Best Practices, Aspatore Books – 2008

    Representative Speaking Engagements

    • Rhode Island Bar Association – November 2017
      Limited Scope Representation
    • United States District Court (RI) Litigation Academy – September 2017
      Direct and Cross-Examination of Fact Witnesses
    • Rhode Island Bar Association – June 2017
      The Regulation of Insurance and the Enforcement Process
    • TGIF Series (Thank Goodness I’m the Fiduciary) – Modifying Irrevocable Trusts
      • U.S. Trust/Bank of America – June 2017
      • Webster Bank – September 2017
    • United States District Court (RI) Litigation Academy – May 2017
      Mediation Skills Training
    • Rhode Island Professional Day – May 2016
      Business Ethics for the Professional
    • National Association of Financial and Insurance Advisors (NAIFA) – September 2015
      The Wild Crazy World of Ethics
    • TGIF Series (Thank Goodness I’m the Fiduciary) – Modifying Irrevocable Trusts
      • U.S. Trust/Bank of America – 2015
      • Rockland Trust Company – 2015
    • Advancing Women’s Excellence (AWE) – November 2014
      Creating Unique Client Experiences
    • Partridge Snow & Hahn WAVE Seminar – July 2014
      Decision Making with Elder Parents
    • National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) – September 2014
      Ethics: Live and in Color
    • Advancing Women’s Excellence (AWE) – November 2013
      Client Entertainment Do’s and Don’ts
    • TGIF Series (Thank Goodness I’m the Fiduciary) – Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code
      • RBS Citizens – 2012
      • U.S. Trust/Bank of America – 2012
    • The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company – May 2012
      Words Matter: What You Should Know About Email
    • Leading Women SENE – January 2012
      Successful Business Women Strategies
    • Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island – November 2011
      Legal Duties Owed by Agents
      TGIF Series (Thank Goodness I’m the Fiduciary) – Litigation Mitigation for Trustees
      • Rockland Trust Company – 2011
      • Plimoth Investment Advisors – 2011
      • U.S. Trust/Bank of America – 2012
    • Partridge Snow & Hahn Ethics Seminar – May 2011
      Ethics in Negotiation
    • The Women’s Summit, Bryant University – March 2011
      Be a Mentor – Change a Life
    • Leading Women SENE – 2011
      Daily Habits of Successful Business Women
    • Leading Women SENE – 2010
      Social Media – Smart Business Strategies
    • Women’s Fund of Rhode Island – 2010
      Success: Holding the Ladder – Steps to Building Career Savvy
    • Partridge Snow & Hahn Ethics Seminar – 2010
      Ethical Issues in a Contentious Digital World
    • Partridge Snow & Hahn Litigation Seminar – 2009
      Stay Cool in the Hot Seat: Reducing the Stress of Litigation
    • TGIF Series (Thank Goodness I’m the Fiduciary) – Duties & Protections for Fiduciaries
      • BNY Mellon Wealth Management – 2010
      • Rockland Trust Company – 2009
      • U.S. Trust/Bank of America – 2008
      • Citizens Bank; Anawon Trust Company; The Washington Trust Company – 2007
    • TGIF Series (Thank Goodness I’m the Fiduciary) – My Beneficiary is Broke! Asset Protection Planning: Protecting the Beneficiary and Trustee
      • Citizens Bank – 2009
    • Client E-Discovery Series – 2008
      E-Discovery: What Is It and Why You Should Care
      • Roger Williams Hospital
      • Providence College
      • Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence
      • Taco
      • The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company
    • Estate Planning Round Up – 2007
      The Bull’s Eye Is On Your Back

    Professional Affiliations

    • Rhode Island Bar Association
      • President (2015-2016)
      • Executive Committee Member (2007-2017)
      • House of Delegates, Member (2004-present)
      • Superior Court Bench/Bar Committee, Member (1994-present); co-Chair (2003-2013)
      • Annual Meeting Committee, Chair (2012)
      • Strategic Planning Committee, Member (2011, 2017)
    • Rhode Island Bar Foundation
      • Board Member (2017-present)
      • Fellow (Life)
    • Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association
      • Member (appointed by Chief Justice Suttell in 2013; reappointed to a second term in 2017)
    • New England Bar Association
      • Board Member (2013-2015, 2017-present)
    • Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants
      • Associate Member
    • Rhode Island Women's Bar Association
      • Member
    • American Bar Association
      • Litigation and Business Law Divisions, Member
    • Litigation Counsel of America
      • Fellow
    • Defense Counsel of Rhode Island
      • Member
    • Leadership Rhode Island
      • Class of 2000

    Community Activities

    • FirstWorks
      • Board Member
    • Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth, Inc.
      • Former Secretary, Board Member
    • Big Sisters Fund
      • Former Secretary, Board Member
    • Big Sisters of Rhode Island
      • Former Board Member
    • Leading Women
      • Former Advisory Board Member
    • Rhode Island Coalition for Minority Investment
      • Former Counsel to the Board
      • Founders Award (2004)
    • Minority Investment Development Corporation
      • Former Counsel to the Board
        • Recognition Award (1997)
    • Perishable Theater
      • Influential Women in RI Award (2001)

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