Case Caption: Delroy Sweeney v. Dr. S. Richard OmbresCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2013-0068Date: 01/10/2014Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

An order of the Superior Court dismissing this medical malpractice action based upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25 for failure to make a motion for substitution in relation to a deceased party within 90 days of a notice of the defendant's death is summarily reversed. While Superior Court Rule 7 provides that the practice and procedure in that court shall be governed by the Rules of the Superior Court and, to the extent not inconsistent therewith, by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that Rule does not vest litigants or the Superior Court with a license to ignore local Virgin Islands statutes and court rules and replace those requirements with federal law. In this case, 5 V.I.C. § 78 governs substitution of parties in a civil case upon death, and allows up to two years for a motion to allow the action to be continued by or against a decedent's personal representatives or successor in interest. This two-year limitations period, and not the 90-day period in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25, that governs substitution of deceased parties in Superior Court proceedings. Consequently, the Superior Court committed error when it applied Federal Rule 25 to the exclusion of 5 V.I.C. § 78. The August 23, 2013 Order is reversed and the case is remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion