A case stemming from the use of a right of way on commercial property in St. Thomas. In November of 2000, Parcel No. 14 Estate Contant was divided into four parcels. Parcel No. 14A was purchased by Gejan, Inc., Parcel No. 14B was purchased by Hubert King, and Parcel No. 14C was purchased by Alexius Perkins. Parcel No. 14D was granted to the three as tenants in common to use as a private right of way.
U.S. Virgin Islands corporations have the potential to be sued in all areas of the country. It is important to understand how your company’s interactions in another jurisdiction may bring about the required jurisdictional requirements to be sued there.
Forum non conveniens is the discretionary power of a court to decline its jurisdiction in cases where another court may more conveniently hear a case. As the U.S. Virgin Islands is roughly 1000 miles from the U.S. mainland, an individual or company faced with litigation may see this doctrine arise. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals handled the question in a case involving parties from foreign countries.
A declaratory judgment is a court judgment which sets out the rights of parties but without ordering any action or awarding damages. Courts will entertain this motion to stop controversies with a clarification of the law at the initiation of a lawsuit instead of waiting until both parties have presented their arguments. For instance, a corporation may request a court to decide if a new tax is applicable to their business before the company pays it.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(1) concerns a court’s subject matter jurisdiction to hear a case. You can not just bring a lawsuit where you want against someone because you want to. If a judge decides that a plaintiff doesn’t have standing or the proper connection to an injury, the court will not have jurisdiction to hear the case and must dismiss it.
Those are the questions posed to District Court Judge Susan Davis Wigenton in a case brought by Gershwain Sprauve.
For those who practice in the courts of the Virgin Islands, there is a weary acceptance that justice will come, but it might not come quickly. Sometimes—either due to the complexity of a case or a court’s congested docket—a motion or petition will linger on a judge’s docket for months or (in extreme cases) even years. In these situations, a litigant has only two choices: Sit back and wait for a ruling or try to get the case moving with a writ of mandamus.
Summary judgment is a decision by the judge that the claim asserted has no factual issues that need to be given to the jury, and the case may be decided as a matter of law. This rids the court of factually unsupported claims and defenses where one of the parties convinces the judge that the factual issues either do not exist or they are not material, thereby avoiding trial and allowing the judge to make the decision. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 56 speaks to this type of motion and states that summary judgment may be entered after adequate time for discovery against the party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, which that party would bear the burden of proof at trial.
Stotesbury v. Pirate Duck Adventure, LLC, Slip Copy, 2013 WL 5508131 (D.V.I. October 1, 2013).
In a recent case, the Appellant, Hani Khalil, asked the Supreme Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands to hear his argument concerning the Superior Court’s orders, which ruled on his motion in opposition to a motion for attorney’s fees and prejudgment interest filed by the Appellee, Guardian Insurance Company.