Case Caption: Edmond Webster, et al. v. FirstBank Puerto RicoCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2016-0039Date: 04/24/2017Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In litigation brought by a bank against borrowers on a series of loans, in which the defendants filed counterclaims for breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, duress, and intrusion upon seclusion, the Superior Court erred when it determined that the mandatory mediation provision of 28 V.I.C. § 531(b) permitted it to order mediation after entry of a judgment of foreclosure but before entry of a final judgment. Although the Superior Court stayed enforcement of its summary judgment adjudications in favor of the bank, those orders clearly constituted judgments, even if at the time of entry they were not final judgments that could be immediately appealed. The unusual procedure employed by the Superior Court in this case failed to place the parties in the same position as they would have been if mediation had occurred earlier. Ordering the parties to mediate the matter only after entry of judgment in the bank's favor on the loans and their modifications made compliance with 28 V.I.C. § 531(b) impossible. All the Superior Court's rulings adjudicating the parties' claims on the merits are vacated, including, but not limited to, the July 7, 2016, June 12, 2016, March 7, 2014, August 9, 2013, and March 6, 2013 orders, and it is directed that the matter be referred to mediation on remand. To remedy-to the greatest extent possible given the circumstances-the impact of the summary judgment rulings in favor of the bank, it is ordered that case be assigned to a different Superior Court judge on remand, who, in the event the parties fail to reach an agreement through mediation, may consider the bank's summary judgment motion anew without any reliance on or deference to the prior decisions.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion