Case Caption: Walter Gardiner, M.D. v. Jewel DiazCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2012-0022Date: 01/02/2013Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In a small claims proceeding by a former employee seeking to enforce a Department of Labor order for recovery of $915 in unpaid overtime compensation, the former employer's challenge to the order of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court affirming a magistrate's ruling is rejected. While the notice of appeal in this case was not filed within the required 30 days after the date of entry of judgment as required by V.I.S.CT. R. 5(a)(1), this provision is a case-processing rule and may, therefore, be waived by an opposing party's failure to object. Because it is apparent from the record that the employer's claim lacks merit, the interests of judicial economy are best served by direct review of the proceedings before the magistrate. In response to the Small Claims Division proceeding the former employer could have filed a written answer with a counterclaim, and had a number of opportunities to argue his counterclaim to the court in three separate appearances before a judge and the magistrate, but never mentioned any such counterclaim. Nor was there anything to prevent the employer from filing a separate small claims action for the amount he claimed that the former employee owed him. Because the employer had an adequate opportunity to raise his counterclaim before the magistrate-but failed to do so- the matter is deemed waived, as provided in V.I.S.CT. R. 4(h). Thus the Appellate Division did not err when it declined to address the arguments the employer raised in his brief on review, and its February 1, 2012 decision upholding a magistrate's ruling in favor of the former employee is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion