Case Caption: Joe Harold Vanterpool, d/b/a/ Vanterpool Enters. v. Government of the Virgin Islands, et al.Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2013-0072Date: 08/10/2015Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In litigation involving millions of dollars in disputed construction contract compensation claims, the Superior Court judge exceeded his authority by issuing a summary judgment opinion when the case remained assigned to another judge, and erred by invoking District Court Rule 56.1 as a basis to accept the Government's statement of undisputed facts on the summary judgment motion without conducting an independent review of the entire record, and in later denying motions to reconsider that decision. The fact that a summary-judgment motion is deemed uncontested due to a procedural defect-such as not filing a timely opposition-is not grounds for accepting the moving party's statement of undisputed facts as true, and it was clearly error to disregard the record and treat the facts set forth by the Government as uncontested simply because the plaintiff's summary-judgment motion failed to include a serially-numbered separate statement of undisputed facts. The case will be remanded to the Superior Court so that it may perform a proper summary-judgment analysis. On the government contracting and quantum meruit issues, Title 31 V.I.C. § 239 only eliminates the competitive bidding requirement for public exigency contracts, but not the writing requirement. However, § 249(a) does not insulate the Government from quantum meruit lawsuits. A contractor may recover in a quantum meruit action in the absence of a valid contract where the Government was enriched at a contractor's expense, had knowledge of the benefit, and the circumstances were such that in equity or good conscience the Government should provide compensation for the services provided. Thus, the grant of summary judgment for the Government must be reversed on the quantum meruit claim as well. The July 12, 2013 opinion granting the Government's cross-motion for summary judgment is reversed, and the September 4, 2013 opinions denying post-judgment motions for reconsideration are vacated. The case is remanded and the Superior Court is directed to conduct a proper summary judgment analysis in light of this Court's interpretation of 31 V.I.C. § 236, § 239, and § 249.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion