Case Caption: Robert L. King, as Trustee for Winston Liburd v. Mackchesney AppletonCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2012-0138Date: 10/06/2014Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

In an eviction action by an attorney holding property in trust for a former client, after the present defendant failed to respond for nearly two years the Superior Court properly entered default against him. By defaulting defendant admitted the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact, and he is barred from contesting the facts thus established. After entering default the Superior Court must consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a valid cause of action under Virgin Islands law and, if so, hold a default judgment hearing to establish the amount of damages. Regardless of whether a warranty deed in this case was recorded, it still constituted a legal transfer of property, and the Superior Court erred in considering a document filed by the plaintiff as a concession to the contrary. In order to create a valid express trust-as opposed to constructive or resulting trusts,-there must be (1) a valid conveyance of a trust property, (2) from a settlor who intends to create a trust, (3) to a trustee to hold legal title (4) for the benefit of a third party beneficiary. Maintaining these basic, definitional elements of an express trust is the soundest rule for the Virgin Islands. The December 11, 2008 warranty deed in this case met all the requirements of a valid trust, designating a trust property, a trustee, and a beneficiary, and was a valid conveyance of the property under the Virgin Islands Code. Consequently, the Superior Court erred in holding that the trust property was never conveyed to the plaintiff attorney and that the trust was otherwise invalid. The November 30, 2012 order dismissing this eviction action with prejudice is reversed and this case is remanded for the Superior Court to hold a damages hearing on the plaintiff's motion for default judgment.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion