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Legal Memorandum: Right to a Private Cause of Action in VI

Issue: Under the laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is their a right to a private cause of action for a violation of the Civil Rights Laws?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law
Keywords: Right to a private cause of action; Violation of the civil rights laws
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 923 F.2d 258; 188 F.3d 172; 304 U.S. 64; 42 F.3d 804; 441 U.S. 677; 367 F.3d 180; 901 F. Supp. 199; 382 F.3d 412; 532 U.S. 275; 659 F. Supp. 1417; 881 F.2d 28; 251 F.3d 465; 432 F.3d 193; 277 F. Supp. 2d 600; 524 F.2d 19
Cited Statutes: 10 V.I.C. § 7; §§ 61, 64, 78, 71, 73, 74, 69, § 64; Chapter 17 of Title 24, §§ 451-462; Chapter 5 of Title 10 of the Virgin Islands Code encompasses §§ 61-75; 24 V.I.C. § 451, §§ 453, 458, §§ 451(a), 452, 454, 455, 457, 458; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 10 V.I.R.R. § 69-8 C.(1)(d); 1 V.I.C. § 4
Date: 06/01/2007

The argument that there is no private right of action under the Virgin Islands Civil Rights Statute is contradicted by the plain language of 10 V.I.C. § 7, explicitly conferring that right:

Whoever, whether as owner, officer, manager, agent, or employee of any business or industrial establishment, labor organization, place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, or club, violates any of the provisions of this chapter, shall, for each and every such violation, be – 

 

   (1) liable in actual damages, and in addition, thereto, to punitive damages not to exceed $ 5,000 to be recovered in a civil action by the person aggrieved thereby or by any resident of the United States Virgin Islands to whom the person aggrieved may assign his cause of action; and

 

  (2) fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

 

10 V.I.C. § 7 (emphasis added).  In Figueroa v. Buccaneer Hotel, Inc., 41 V.I. 502, 188 F.3d 172, 178 (3d Cir. 1999), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit expressly found that, “contrary to the holding of the District Court, a Title 10 claimant is not required to bring a claim with or through the Commission because chapter 1 of Title 10 creates a private cause of action for discrimination.”

The federal court is required to look to the decisions of the courts of the Territory interpreting those […]

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