Legal Memorandum: Time for Commencing Action against US

Issue: What must a plaintiff show in order to establish that he or she has complied with the administrative requirements of the Tort Claims Act?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Tort claim; Administrative requirements; Action accrues
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 444 U.S. 111
Cited Statutes: 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b);
Date: 09/01/2007

The Virgin Islands’ general rules of discovery apply for purposes of determining when an action accrues under the Tort Claims Act.  Samuel v. Gov’t of the Virgin Islands, 44 V.I. 201, No. CIV.349/1999, 2002 V.I. LEXIS 21 (Terr. Ct. 2002), aff’d, No. CIV 2002/61 (D.V.I. Nov. 22, 2006).  Thus, a cause of action accrues when the plaintiff is aware of both the injury and its causeDaniel v. Gov’t of the Virgin Islands, 30 V.I. 134, No. CIV. 1992-0070, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21100 (D.V.I. 1994).

In Daniel, the plaintiff was admitted to a government hospital on April 15, 1990 with a toothpick embedded in her knee.  Dr. Morgan removed the toothpick and sutured the area. In the weeks and months that followed, the plaintiff experienced pain, swelling, and loss of full flexion.  More than eighteen months later, on November 21, 1991, she consulted with another physician, who informed her that she had a permanent degenerative knee injury that could have been totally avoided if Dr. Morgan had prescribed the proper antibiotics upon removing the toothpick.  Id., 30 V.I. at 135. 

In January 1992, plaintiff Daniel mailed a notice of intent to file a tort claim and filed a complaint against the Government of the Virgin Islands and Dr. Morgan.  When the Territorial Court denied her claims, plaintiff Daniel appealed to the District Court, and prevailed. 

The District Court centered its decision on when a claim “accrues.”  It held that Daniel’s action did […]

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