Case Caption: Gary Molloy, et al. v. Independence Blue Cross, et al.Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2009-0102Date: 01/09/2012Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

In a suit on several tort and contract theories brought by parents of a newborn against insurers for failure to provide timely air evacuation services to obtain medical treatment after his premature birth, the Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in denying a motion to compel answers to certain interrogatories because they were not relevant to the issue of personal jurisdiction over a party, and therefore plaintiffs failed to show actual and substantial prejudice from the ruling. The Superior Court erred by dismissing one of the defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction as to one count. While jurisdiction over that party pursuant to the Virgin Islands Long Arm Statute was not proper under 5 V.I.C. § 4903(a)(1) for transacting business in this territory, it was error to find that plaintiffs failed to satisfy the requirements of the Long Arm Statute on their false advertising claim under 5 V.I.C. § 4903(a)(2), contracting to supply services or things in this territory, and under § 4903(a)(4), for causing injury inside the territory by an act outside the territory. The Superior Court also erred by finding that constitutional due process considerations did not permit exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over that party on that count. Where, as here, the plaintiffs establish that a defendant has the requisite minimum contacts and that the claim arises out of those contacts, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant to present a compelling case that other considerations would render jurisdiction unreasonable, and here the moving defendant failed to carry its burden to show that exercising jurisdiction over it based on the claim in this count does not to comport with fair play and substantial justice. The Superior Court also abused its discretion by dismissing plaintiffs' claims for failure to prosecute without first addressing all six factors set forth in Halliday v. Footlocker Specialty, Inc., 53 V.I. 505 (V.I. 2010), and the present case is remanded for full consideration of those factors. The judgment of the Superior Court is reversed in part and the case is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion