Legal Memorandum: Grounds for Sanctions in VI

Issue: Under the laws of the Virgin Islands, when is a party entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses when the opposing party refuses to comply with a valid request for discovery?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Sanctions; An award of attorneys' fees and expenses; Request for discovery
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 37(d)(1)(A)(ii), Rule 33, Rule 37(a) and (b), Rule 37(d)
Date: 04/01/2015

Rule 37(d)(1)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the Court may order sanctions if a party, after being properly served with interrogatories under Rule 33, fails to serve its answers.  Rule 37(a) and (b) requires a direct court order before imposing penalties; however, Rule 37(d) does require a direct order as a prerequisite for sanctions.  Island Trashmoval Serv. v. Virgin Islands, 24 V.I. 72, 78 (1988) (quoting Hodge v. Christian, 20 V.I. 109, 110 (1983)); Sier v. Davis, 23 V.I. 341, 344 (1988).  Litigants must not be permitted to frustrate discovery by refusing to comply with a proper request.  Island Trashmoval Serv., 24 V.I. at 78 (quoting Hodge, 20 V.I. at 110).  “Rule 37(d) has been interpreted to allow the Court’s use of various types of sanctions to enforce the integrity of the discovery process.”  In re Hendricks, 38 V.I. 127, 131 (1998).  “If a motion to compel is granted or the requested disclosure is provided after the motion is filed, the court must, with limited exceptions, award costs, including attorney’s fees, to the movant.”  IGY-AYH St. Thomas Holdings, LLC v. Cool Signs, LLC, No. ST-13-CV-S69, 2014 V.I. LEXIS 78, at *3 (V.I. Super. Ct. Sept. 22, 2014).

This Court will sanction a plaintiff whose answers to interrogatories seek to frustrate, rather than perpetuate, an efficient justice system.  See Green v. Hess Oil V.I. Corp., 29 V.I. 27, 31-32 (1994) (holding discovery, including interrogatories, is mechanism to “perpetuate an efficient justice system by enabling each […]

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