Case Caption: Bertram Inniss v. Vashtie InnissCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2013-0148Date: 08/18/2016Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

Considering a husband's appeal from the Superior Court's decision concluding that his settlement payment emanating from a civil lawsuit for personal injuries he sustained in an automobile accident was marital property and that, since the personal injury settlement award was marital property, his spouse at the time of the injury was entitled to a portion of the settlement payment in the parties' divorce action, the Superior Court failed to consider what portion of the settlement payment was to compensate the husband for his lost earnings during the marriage and what portions were for the wife's claims for compensation, as the non-injured spouse, for loss of services or loss of consortium. Conducting an analysis under Banks v. Int'l Rental & Leasing Corp., 55 V.I. 967, 981-84 (V.I. 2011) to determine what common law rule should govern the determination in the Virgin Islands of whether a personal injury settlement payment is marital property or separate property of the spouse who suffered the injury, the "analytic approach" to classification of a personal injury settlement or jury award as marital or separate property, adopted by 34 other jurisdictions in the United States, is the most appropriate for the Virgin Islands and is consonant with the legislative intent underlying the law of the Virgin Islands governing dissolution of marriages. Applying this approach, the Superior Court's decisions and awards were an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the Superior Court's December 4, 2013 decision is reversed and the matter is remanded for consideration of all the components of damages for which the settlement agreement was meant to compensate and for distribution in accordance with this opinion.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion