Case Caption: World Fresh Market, LLC DBA Pueblo v. Lenor Mercedes PalermoCase Number: SCT-CIV-2012-0012Date: 02/04/2021Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: 2021 VI 1Summary: In a personal injury action against a supermarket operator, judgment for plaintiff entered after a jury verdict is affirmed. Under 5 V.I.C. § 1451(d) where recovery is allowed against more than one defendant, the amount awarded must be apportioned against each defendant, but in this case that statute is inapplicable because the store’s lessor was not a defendant at the time of trial. Laws providing for apportionment of fault are substantive, not procedural, and thus this Court is not free to supersede the legislative enactment by creating an inconsistent common law rule. Providing for apportionment to those other than defendants would expand the definition of the word “defendants” beyond what the Legislature intended in enacting §1451(d). Accordingly, the Superior Court committed no error when it declined to direct apportionment of damages between the defendant and the building’s lessor. Title 5 V.I.C. § 427 is a procedural statute establishing a rule of evidence permitting a party to introduce evidence that another party has received compensation for damages for medical expenses or lost income. In the event of a conflict, a procedural rule adopted by this Court prevails over an inconsistent procedural statute, and V.I. Rule of Evidence 408 precludes any party from introducing evidence of a settlement to prove or disprove the validity or amount of a disputed claim – in direct conflict with § 427, which must yield to Rule 408. The Superior Court did not err when it excluded the settlement evidence, even though it may have erred in its reasoning. In addition, it correctly instructed the jury on comparative fault but declined to separately instruct on the defense of implied assumption of the risk. Under Evidence Rule 702 it also committed no error in qualifying expert witnesses and permitting them to testify to lost earnings capacity. The Superior Court’s January 28, 2020 amended judgment is affirmed.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion