Case Caption: Ethlyn Joseph v. Daily News Publishing Co., Inc., et al.Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2009-0015Date: 10/25/2012Author: Citation: Summary:

In a defamation action brought by a public official, the Superior Court's Opinion and Order granting summary judgment for the defendants is treated as a final judgment because that Court intended to dismiss the underlying action in its entirety in ruling on summary judgment. After review of the elements of defamation claims in the Virgin Islands and the principles applicable where the plaintiff is a public official, including the constitutional requirement that the plaintiff prove "actual malice" on the part of the defendants by clear and convincing evidence, the judgment is affirmed. While the record contains some disputed facts, no genuine issue of material fact exists in this case because - even when the record is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff (the non-moving party) - there is simply no evidence that any defendant acted with actual malice with respect to the most serious allegations. While it is possible - again viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff - that a finder of fact could conclude that some statements in the articles sued upon were unsubstantiated, the absence of actual malice for their main "gist" precludes holding any of the defendants liable for minor or collateral inaccuracies. Accordingly, the Superior Court's January 22, 2009 Opinion and Order is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion