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Legal Memorandum: Motion for Summary Judgment

Issue: Under the laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands, when should a motion for summary judgment be granted when the issue is whether the defendant’s conduct was willful or wanton?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion for summary judgment; Willful or wanton conduct
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 841 S.W.2d 609
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2006

In Lively v. Libbey Mem’l Physical Med. Ctr., Inc., 841 S.W.2d 609 (Ark. 1992), the Supreme Court of Arkansas reversed summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a case in which its employee was injured in a whirlpool on the defendant’s premises.  The trial court found “no material issue of fact regarding whether Libbey Memorial acted willfully or wantonly.”  Id. at 612.  The supreme court defined “willful or wanton conduct” sufficient to support a punitive damages award as “a course of action which shows a deliberate intention to harm or which shows utter indifference to, or conscious disregard of, the safety of others.”  Id. at 612-13 (emphasis added).  The evidence adduced prior to the summary judgment proceedings included the plaintiff’s statement that she did not think the defendant or anyone at the defendant center intended to injure her.  Id. at 613.  The Lively court viewed this evidence as insufficient to settle the issue.  “A question of fact remained whether Libbey Memorial acted with utter indifference to, or conscious disregard of, the safety of others.”  Id.

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