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Legal Memorandum: Filing an Unverified Complaint in VI

Issue: Under the laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the initial complaint filed against the government under the Tort Claims Act is not verified, is this deficiency fatal to the plaintiff’s case?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Tort claim; Unverified complaint
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 592 F.2d 184; 744 F.2d 992
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 09/01/2007

In cases where the complaint is not verified in a Tort Claims Act matter, Virgin Islands case law provides that subject matter jurisdiction remains with the court, and the case may proceed on the merits.  See McBean v. Gov’t of the Virgin Islands, 19 V.I. 383, 1983 V.I. LEXIS 55 (Terr. Ct. 1983) (a complaint will not be dismissed because it is unverified; the plaintiff will be allowed to supplement the complaint with a verification); Hodge v. Monsanto, 16 V.I. 70, 592 F.2d 184 (3d Cir. 1983) (same).

The Act’s policy purpose in avoiding stale claims is to lessen the likelihood that evidence will be lost, or that witnesses will become unavailable, or that time will fade their memories.  Saludes v. Ramos, 744 F.2d 992, 996 (3d Cir. 1984). 

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