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2008 Published Opinions
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December 31, 2008
S.Ct.Civ. No.: 2008-093
In Re: Carolyn Burke
      This matter comes before this Court due to the failure of Carolyn Burke (hereafter “Burke”), Official Court Reporter, to timely file transcripts in five appeals currently pending before this Court. For the following reasons, we find Burke in contempt of Court and impose monetary sanctions.
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December 30, 2008
S.Ct.Civ.: 2008-001
Constantia Clarke, Individually and as Personal Representative for the Estate of ANSELMO CLARKE, Deceased, (Appellants/Plaintiffs) vs.Government Employees Retirement System, (Appellee/Defendant)
      This matter is before the Court on an appeal brought by Constantia Clarke (hereafter “Mrs. Clarke”) and the Estate of Anselmo Clarke (collectively “Appellants”) of the Superior Court’s December 4, 2007 order granting summary judgment in favor of the Government Employees Retirement System (hereafter “Appellee” or “GERS.”) For the following reasons, we shall dismiss Appellants’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
      Download Per Curiam Order  (17 kb)

December 18, 2008
S.Ct.Crim.: 2007-041
Stacey Ambrose (Appellant/Defendant) vs. People of the Virgin Islands (Appellee/Plaintiff)
      Stacy Ambrose (“Ambrose”) was in an intimate relationship with Ruby Vidal (“Vidal”) when the People of the Virgin Islands (“People”) filed an information against Ambrose, charging him with several criminal offenses for acts he allegedly perpetrated upon Vidal. At the end of the trial, the jury convicted Ambrose of assault with a deadly weapon as an act of domestic violence, in violation of section 297(2), title 14 of the Virgin Islands Code (“Code”) and section 91(b) (1) & (2), title 16 of the Code. The jury also convicted Ambrose of unauthorized possession of a firearm, during the commission of a crime of violence in violation of section 2253(a), title 14 of the Code.2 Notwithstanding a juror’s dissent from the verdicts during the jury poll, the trial court accepted the verdicts after an in-chamber proceeding in which the dissenting juror was questioned about her verdicts outside the presence of the other jurors.
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November 14, 2008
S.Ct.Crim.: 2008-013
People of the Virgin Islands (Appellant/Plaintiff), v. Makeem Pratt (Appellee/Defendant),
      The People of the Virgin Islands (hereafter “People”) appeal a February 4, 2008 Superior Court Order sentencing Appellee Makeem Pratt (hereafter “Pratt” or “Appellee”) to six months probation in lieu of one year incarceration, which the People purport is the mandatory minimum sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm, the crime to which Pratt pled guilty. Pratt argues that the People have no authority to appeal Pratt’s sentence because title 4, section 33(d) of the Virgin Islands Code does not allow the People to appeal a sentencing order. For the following reasons, we shall dismiss the People’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
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November 10, 2008
S.Ct.Civ.No.: 2008-057
Inez Mathias Hodge, et al. (Appellants/Defendants) vs. Gloria McGowan, et al (Appellees/Plaintiffs)
      Cynthia Miller (hereafter “Miller) appeals the March 12, 2007 Superior Courtorder that: dismissed the claims of Inez Mathias Hodge (hereafter “Hodge”) against Gloria McGowan, Paul Hoffman and Jane Hoffman Walker (collectively referred to as “Appellees”) for failure to prosecute; dismissed with prejudice Miller’s claims against Appellees; dismissed with prejudice Appellees’ claims against Miller; and dismissed as moot Appellees’ claims against Hodge.2 For the reasons which follow, we will affirm the Superior Court’s holdings.
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September 26, 2008
S.Ct.Civ.No.: 2007-049
James Myers, (Appellant/Plaintiff,) vs. JamesDerr and Dori Derr, (Appellees/Defendants.)
      Appellant James Myers (hereafter “Myers”) appeals a Superior Court judgment awarding him nominal damages in the amount of $1.00 for a trespass claim successfully prosecuted against James and Lori Derr (collectively “the Derrs” or “Appellees”). Myers asks this Court to find that the trial court erred when it (1) failed to award damages for injury to his land and (2) declined to award any other general damages on the basis that Myers’s complaint only requested compensation for injury to his land. For the reasons which follow, we shall affirm in part and reverse in part.
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September 16, 2008
S.Ct.Civ.No.: 2007-125
Virgin Islands Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation, St. Thomas/St. John District Governing Board of the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, (Appellant/Petitioner,) v. Government of The Virgin Islands, Department of Health, Darlene E. Carty, Commissioner of Health, and St. Thomas Ambulatory Surgical Center, LLC (Appellees/Respondents.)
      Appellant Virgin Islands Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation, St. Thomas/St. John District Governing Board of the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital (hereinafter “the Hospital”) appeals a Superior Court order awarding Appellee St. Thomas Ambulatory Surgical Center, LLC (hereinafter “ASC”) prevailing party attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to 5 V.I.C. § 541. The ASC has also filed a cross-appeal, arguing that the Superior Court erred by reducing its attorney’s fee award by 20 percent after having first reduced it by 25 percent. Both the Hospital’s appeal and the ASC’s cross-appeal will be dismissed and the Superior Court’s September 26, 2007 order will be vacated on ripeness grounds.
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September 5, 2008
S. Ct. Civ. No. 2007-124
The Estate of Ralph A. George, Deceased (Appellant) vs. Floretta J. George (Appellee
      Appellant, the Estate of Ralph A. George (hereafter “the Estate”), appeals the October 25, 2007 Superior Court order denying its Motion for Declaratory Judgment Against Floretta J. George. The Estate asks this Court to hold that the probate court lacked the authority to grant Appellee, Floretta J. George (hereafter “Mrs. George” or “the widow”), spousal support and rent-free possession of the marital home for more than one year. Mrs. George, on the other hand, argues that this appeal is a “back door attempt to appeal Orders that [the Estate] not only honored but did nothing to contest until seven years after they were entered.” (Appellee’s Br. 9.) In essence, she contends that this is an improper interlocutory appeal. For the reasons which follow, we will dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
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August 29, 2008
S.Ct. Crim. No. 2008-022
Jeffrey Browne (Appellant/Defendant) vs. People of the Virgin Islands (Appellee/Plaintiff)
      Appellant, Jeffrey Browne(hereafter “Browne”), appeals the Superior Court order granting a motion, brought by Appellee (hereafter “the People”), for his continued pretrial detention. In this appeal, this Court is asked to resolve a vital, recurring issue which has caused a split among the judges of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands.2 Specifically, we must determine which of the conflicting statutory provisions governs pretrial detention of defendants charged in the Superior Court with first degree murder under Virgin Islands law. For the reasons which follow, we will affirm the trial court’s use of section 3 of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 [hereinafter “the ROA” or “the Revised Organic Act”] to determine Browne’s continued pretrial detention but will remand to the trial court for a proper section 3 determination of whether the proof is evident or the presumption is great, consistent with this opinion.
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September 3, 2008
S.CT. Crim. No. 2008-022
Jeffrey Browne (Appellant/Defendant) vs. People of the Virgin Islands (Appellee/Plaintiff)
      This matter is before the Court sua sponte to correct an error in an Opinion issued on August 29, 2008 in the instant case.
      Download Errata Order  (9 kb)

August 21, 2008
S.Ct. Civ. No.: 2008-085
H. Akia Gore, (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs. Elizabeth Tilden, (Appellee/Defendant)
      H. Akia Gore (“Gore”) filed the underlying small claims action for debt against Elizabeth Tilden (“Tilden”) alleging that she defaulted on her lease and failed to pay the last month’s rent. On June 8, 2007, Tilden filed a counterclaim requesting the return of her security deposit and $6,000 for repeated violations of her right to quiet enjoyment of the premises. Gore failed to appear at the scheduled June 12, 2007, bench trial on the matter. The Superior Court dismissed Gore’s complaint for failure to prosecute and entered default judgment on Tilden’s counterclaim for the return of the security deposit, but found that Tilden failed to provide a cognizable measure of damages for the alleged violations of her right to quiet enjoyment. Gore subsequently filed a motion to reopen the matter which was denied by the Superior Court. Gore now appeals the underlying judgment arguing that the Superior Court: (1) failed to timely notify him of the scheduled trial date; (2) was biased in denying his request for a continuance but granting Tilden’s request; (3) erred by failing to allow a surrogate to present evidence on his behalf; and (4) erred by entering default judgment against him on Tilden’s counterclaim for a refund of the security deposit. This Court must determine on appeal whether the trial court abused its discretion by dismissing Gore’s complaint, deciding not to grant him a continuance, not allowing a surrogate to represent him at trial, and entering default against him on the counterclaim. For the reasons which follow, we affirm the Superior Court’s dismissal of Gore’s complaint, but reverse the entry of default judgment on Tilden’s counterclaim and remand the matter to the trial court for a new trial on the merits of the counterclaim.
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July 22, 2008
S.CT.CIV.No.: 2008-080
Sonia Bright, (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs. United Corp., d/b/a Plaza Extra, (Appellee/Defendant.)
      This appeal concerns a slip and fall accident that took place at the Plaza Extra supermarket in Estate Sion Farm, St. Croix on June 20, 2004. Appellant Sonia Bright (“Bright”) filed an action for damages in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands alleging negligence,bodily injury, medical expenses, lost income and lost future earning capacity. Appellee United Corporation d/b/a Plaza Extra (“Plaza”) filed a motion for summary judgment contending that Plaza did not have notice of the spill which may have caused Bright’s injuries. The Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaza, holding that, because Bright failed to provide any evidence that Plaza knew or should have known about the substance on the floor, no reasonable jury could find that Plaza had breached its duty to Bright as a matter of law. The instant appeal followed. On appeal, we must determine whether there were any genuine issues of material fact to preclude the entry of summary judgment. Because we conclude that there is indeed a genuine issue of material fact as to constructive notice, the grant of summary judgment will be vacated and the matter remanded.
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July 14, 2008
S.CT.CIV.No.: 2008-075
Gabriel Corriette, (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs. Pedro Morales, (Appellee/Defendant.)
      Appellant, Gabriel Corriette (hereafter “Corriette”), appeals the Superior Court order that granted the Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (hereafter “JNOV”) brought by Appellee, Pedro Morales (hereafter “Morales”), and set aside the jury’s $20,000.00 award for future pain and suffering. For the reasons which follow, we will reverse the JNOV order and remand to the Superior Court for a new trial on the issue of damages.
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July 10, 2008
S.CT.CIV.No.: 2007/118
Edith Williams, (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs. United Corporation d/b/a Plaza Extra (Appellee/Defendant)
      Appellant, Edith Williams (hereafter “Williams”), appeals the Superior Court order granting the Motion for Summary Judgment brought by Appellee, United Corporation d/b/a Plaza Extra (hereafter “Plaza”). For the reasons which follow, we will vacate the order granting summary judgment and remand to the Superior Court with instructions that this case is to be reinstated on the trial calendar.
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June 26, 2008
S.CT. Civ. No. 2007/079
In Re: Everette Le Blanc and Lee J. Rohn
      Everett Le Blanc, Lee J. Rohn (“Rohn”), and the Law Offices of Rohn and Cameron (collectively “Petitioners”) filed a petition protractively titled “Petition for Writ of Mandamus to Require the Superior Court Presiding Judge Donohue to Apply Virgin Islands Law to Petitioner’s Request for Interlocutory Appeal of the Court’s Order Disqualifying Counsel in this Matter” (“petition”). For the reasons explicated below, we will deny the petition for a writ of mandamus.
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June 18, 2008
S.CT.Crim No. 2007/120
The People of the Virgin Islands, (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs. Antonio George (Appellee/Defendant.)
      Appellant, the People of the Virgin Islands (hereafter “the People”), appeals the Superior Court order dismissing the Summons issued against Appellee, Antonio George (hereafter \“George”). For the reasons which follow, this appeal will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
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June 12, 2008
S. Ct. Civ. No. 2007/028
Karim Robles, (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs Hovensa, L.L.C., (Appellee/Defendant)
      Karim Robles (“Robles”) sued his employer, HOVENSA, L.L.C. (“HOVENSA”), alleging that he was injured from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas in the course of his employment. The Superior Court of the Virgin Islands dismissed the complaint upon finding that Robles’ common law tort claims are barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act (the “WCA”), title 24, section 284(a) of the Virgin Islands Code. According to the trial court, Robles’ complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because it did not adequately allege that HOVENSA deliberately and intentionally injured him. Robles appealed, asserting that he did allege intentional wrongdoing under the substantial certainty test which is applied in a minority of American jurisdictions. Under the substantial certainty test, intentional conduct includes situations in which the employer believes that the injury is substantially certain to result. Because we conclude that the substantial certainty test is not applicable in the Virgin Islands, we affirm the decision of the Superior Court.
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June 9, 2008
S.Ct. Civ. No. 2007/027
Virgin Islands Public Services Commission, (Appellant/Respondent/Defendant) vs. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, (Appellee/Petitioner/Plaintiff)
      Appellant, the Virgin Islands Public Service Commission (hereafter “PSC”), appeals the Superior Court’s order holding that PSC’s power to regulate the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (hereafter “WAPA”) is limited solely to rate-setting and does not include the power of general oversight. For the reasons which follow, the Superior Court’s order will be affirmed.
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June 2, 2008
S.Ct. Civ. No. 2007/044
In the Matter of the Adoption of Infant Sherman
      This appeal concerns an adoption that took place in 1969. In the instant proceedings, the adoptee’s biological mother, L.C.F., (“Appellant”) petitioned the trial court, ex parte, to unseal the adoption records. Appellant contended that she needed identifying information in the records to contact the adoptee, identified as Infant Sherman. According to Appellant, she desired to “bequeath her estate to her son,” and “very much would like the opportunity to meet with her only child.” (App. at 5.) Upon weighing the potential harms and benefits to the interested parties and concluding that Appellant did not show good cause for unsealing the records, the trial court denied the petition. Appellant moved for reconsideration, asserting for the first time that the trial court should have appointed a guardian ad litem to ascertain the respective interests of the parties to the adoption before determining whether good cause existed. Appellant also proffered for the first time an affidavit from a psychologist who opined that the trial court’s refusal to unseal the adoption records was contrary to a prevailing trend toward greater transparency in adoption proceedings. The trial court denied Appellant’s motion for reconsideration, and this appeal ensued. On appeal, we must determine whether the trial court erred in failing to appoint a guardian ad litem and whether the court abused its discretion in denying the motion for reconsideration. For the reasons which follow, the trial court’s order will be affirmed.
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May 27, 2008
S.Ct. Civ. No. 2007/059
Elizabeth Pichardo (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs. Albert Bryan, Commissioner of Labor, etal. (Appellees/Defendants)
      Before the Court is Appellant’s challenge to the Superior Court order dismissing her petition for writ of review as untimely. For the reasons stated below, we will affirm the dismissal.
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May 15, 2008
S.Ct. BA. No. 2007/125
In the Matter of the Application of John Morgan, Jr., for Admission to the Virgin Islands Bar
      This matter is before the Court on Mr. John Carter Morgan’s Application for Admission to the Virgin Islands Bar. For the reasons stated below, the application will be denied.
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May 12, 2008
S.Ct. BA. No. 2007/105
In the Matter of the Application of John Calvin Coggin, III, for Admission to the Virgin Islands Bar
      This matter is before the Court on Mr. John Calvin Coggin’s Application for Admission to the Virgin Islands Bar. For the reasons stated below, the application will be denied.
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May 7, 2008
S.Ct. Civ. No. 2007/046
Virgin Islands Port Authority (Appellant/Plaintiff) vs. Patrick Joseph (Appelle/Defendant)
      The Virgin Islands Port Authority (“VIPA”) filed a forcible entry and detainer action (“FED”) to recover possession of its premises from Patrick Joseph (“Joseph”). Upon finding that Joseph raised a bona fide defense to VIPA’s FED complaint, the trial court entered an order dismissing the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. VIPA filed this appeal, asserting that the trial court erred in ruling that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the FED action. For the reasons which follow, we will reverse the trial court’s decision and remand for further proceedings.
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March 3, 2008
S. Ct. BA Nos. 2007/64; 2007/65
The Virgin Islands Bar, by and through the Ethics and Grievance Committee of the Virgin Islands Bar (St. Thomas and St. John Subcommittee, Petitioner, v. Stephen A. Brusch, Respondent.
      The Virgin Islands Bar, by and through the Ethics and Grievance Committee (the "Bar"), filed two petitions with this Court for disciplinary action against respondent, Attorney Stephen A. Brosch("Brosch"). The two petitions allege that Brosch violated several rules of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct relating to his failure to communicate with clients and remit funds due to clients. In both petitions, the Bar recommends that we disbar Brosch. For the reasons which follow, we find that Brosch has violated some of the most important ethical duties an attorney owes to his clients and that the only appropriate sanction is disbarment.
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February 22, 2008
S. Ct. Civ. No. 2007/050
Judi's of St. Croix Car Rental, Linda Denner and Dennis Denner, Appellants/Defendants v. Jahmeca Weston, Appellees/Plaintiff
      Appellants Judi's of St. Croix Car Rental, Linda Denner and Dennis Denner (collectively "Appellants") appeal both the Superior Court order setting aside entry of dismissal and entering judgment in favor of Appellee Jahmeca Weston ("Weston") and the order denying Appellants' Motion for Reconsideration. For the reasons which follow, the order setting aside entry of dismissal and entering judgment for Weston will be reversed and the order denying Appellants' Motion for Reconsideration will be dismissed as moot.
      Download Per Curiam Order  (672 kb)

February 12, 2008
S. Ct. Crim. No. 2007/116
People of the Virgin Islands, Appellant/Petitioner, v. Steven J. Baxter, Appellee/Respondent
      Before the Court is Steven J. Baxter's ("Appellee") motion to dismiss the People of the Virgin Islands's ("Appellant") appeal from an Order of the Superior Court granting Appellee's motion for a new trial. For the reasons elucidated below, this Court will grant Appellee's motion to dismiss the appeal from the grant of a new trial.
      Download Opinion   (624 kb)

January 31, 2008
S. Ct. Crim. No. 2007/063
Clayton Brown, Jr., Appellant/Defendant, vs. People of the Virgin Islands, Appellee/Plaintiff
      This matter is before the Court on the issue of the timeless of Appellant Clayton Brown, Jr.'s (hereafter "Brown) appeal of his conviction for attempted murder and other related charges. For the reasons which follow, we remand to the Superior Court.
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January 17, 2008
S. Ct. Crim. No. 2007/074
Government of the Virgin Islands, Appellant/Plaintiff, v. Selvin Durant, Appellee/Defendant
      Appellant, the Government of the Virgin Islands (hereafter the "Government") challenges the Superior Court's order dismissing the charges against Selvin Durant (hereafter "Durant") with prejudice and releasing him from custody. For the reasons stated below, we will reverse the trial court's dimissal and release order.
      Download Per Curiam Order  (605 kb)
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