What’s New

  • Unanimous victory in the United States Supreme Court. On March 27, 2018, Chief Justice Roberts handed down a unanimous decision in favor of the firm’s client. Andrew Simpson wrote all of the briefs at both the certiorari stage and on the merits and argued the case before the Court. As the respected Above The Law website put it, “To be given an opportunity to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court is an honor few lawyers get. Winning is a greater honor. But winning with a unanimous decision is the ultimate honor. And this honor goes to Andrew Simpson a solo practitioner in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
  • Another rare defense verdict–in a civil sexual assault case. On January 27, 2017, a Virgin Islands jury returned a defense verdict in a case in which a 65 year old woman was suing the firm’s client, a 94 year old man, accusing him of sexual assault at a dinner party. This was the second trial of the case as a year earlier, the jury hung, with only one juror holding out for the plaintiff. The second trial was held amidst growing public attention across the nation to issues of sexual assault and thus presented a dangerous environment to defend such a case. At the conclusion of the second trial, the jury was again hung; in an effort to avoid a third trial, Andrew Simpson advocated that the court allow the parties five additional minutes of closing argument to try to address issues that the lawyers felt might be causing the jury to remain deadlocked. The court agreed and within an hour of the additional closing argument, the jury returned a verdict for the defense and agreed that the plaintiff had not proven that there was any assault.
  • From complaint to appellate victory in less than 90 days. On August 26, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in favor of our client and reversed the district court, reinstating the firm’s client to the ballot for Governor of the Virgin Islands. The case was handled on an emergency basis from the filing of the complaint on May 30, 2014 through the district court proceeding and appeal, with the final decision from the Third Circuit rendered less than 90 days after the initial complaint was filed. Andrew Simpson used the firm’s technology to draft the appellate briefs while vacationing on a “road trip” around Lake Michigan, at one point downloading research while logged into a closed diner’s wifi hotspot from its parking lot.
  • Summary judgment for hotel resort. On February 7, 2014, the District Court of the Virgin Islands granted our client’s motion for summary judgment in a premises liability case arising out of a slip and fall in a bathtub at a hotel resort. The court agreed that the slippery nature of a bathtub under ordinary conditions of use is an open and obvious condition that does not give rise to liability. The plaintiff argued that the fact that the resort offered bathmats on request proved that the resort knew there was an unreasonably dangerous condition; however, the court agreed that the availability of tools to make an area safer is not evidence that the area was unsafe. This case supports the oft-overlooked point that the duty a landowner owes is to provide a reasonably safe premises — rather than a safer or the safest premises.
  • Another Appellate Victory. On May 1, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in our client’s favor and reinstated her discrimination claim against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Our client, a female DEA law enforcement agent, alleged that her superior discriminated against her, causing her to be transferred from her home on St. Croix to a jurisdiction 1100 miles away and to forfeit twenty days of home leave. The Third Circuit agreed that loss of leave is an adverse employment action and reversed summary judgment in favor of the DEA. The firm has represented several female law enforcement officers in discrimination claims against the United States and the results include the first major gender discrimination verdict against the U.S. Marshals Service in the country.
  • Virgin Islands Supreme Court reinstates adverse possession claim. On April 13, 2012, the Virgin Islands Supreme Court ruled in our client’s favor and agreed that the trial court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing a claim for adverse possession was improper. Our client is seeking to quiet title to 300 acres of beach front property surrounding Great Pond on St. Croix, which he claims by adverse possession after running a dairy cattle farm on the property for over 15 years. The Court agreed that our client had presented sufficient evidence on each element of adverse possession such that he is entitled to have a jury determine whether or not he perfected title. The published decision provides valuable guidance on each element of adverse possession under Virgin Islands law.
  • One of the largest statutory attorney fee awards in Virgin Islands history. On March 29, 2012, the District Court of the Virgin Islands awarded our client, Lexington Insurance Company, $300,000 in attorney’s fees as the prevailing party under the Virgin Islands’s “loser pays” statute (aka “the English Rule” for attorney’s fees). This award is one of the largest fee awards under the statute in Virgin Islands history and may be the largest. The firm had previously successfully represented Lexington in a contested interpleader proceeding at both the trial and appellate levels.
  • Rare Virgin Islands Defense Verdict. In July 2011, Attorney Simpson and stateside co-counsel jointly defended a local ferry company in a negligence case filed in the Superior Court on St. Thomas. After a three day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict, agreeing that the plaintiff had not proven that she was injured on the defendant’s vessel. Prior to trial, the plaintiff had demanded over $600,000 to settle the case. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning the verdict.
  • Virgin Islands Supreme Court reinstates environmental lawsuit. On July 27, 2011, the Virgin Islands Supreme Court ruled in our client’s favor and reinstated an environmental lawsuit that challenges whether a coastal zone management permit authorizing development on the borders of the environmentally-sensitive Great Pond on St. Croix has expired. Our client, the Virgin Islands Conservation Society, asserts that the permit has expired and sought an injunction preventing the holder of the permit from engaging in construction activity on the site. The Superior Court had ruled that our client had failed to exhaust its administrative remedies. We argued that there was no administrative remedy available and the Supreme Court agreed. The case now goes back to the Superior Court for a ruling on the merits.
  • Appellate victory in Insurance Interpleader case. On April 13, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of our client, Lexington Insurance Company in an interpleader case. Lexington was faced with competing demands from two insureds and the claims against the insureds exceed the policy limits. Lexington interpleaded its policy and one of the insureds asserted that Lexington breached the insurance contract by refusing to favor that insured over the interests of the other insured. The Third Circuit agreed with the District Court that Lexington had acted properly and had not breached the contract. The decision may be found at this link: http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/094093np.pdf
  • Summary judgment in an FLSA case. On March 25, 2011, the U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands granted summary judgment to our client, dismissing a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claim against him. The plaintiff argued that our client — an investor in a limited liability corporation — was an “employer” under the FLSA because he had attended a meeting at which employees complained that they had not been paid. The court agreed that the plaintiff had failed to show that our client had exercised control over working conditions, work schedules, hiring, firing or payroll matters related to the employees; consequently, our client could not be deemed an employer under the FLSA.
  • Another pro bono win for the environment. On January 26, 2011, the Virgin Islands Board of Land Use Appeals voted to overturn the denial of a Coastal Zone Management Permit sought by our client, the St. Croix Environmental Association (“SEA”). SEA proposed to build a nature reserve center, classroom facility and caretaker cottage at the 100 acre Southgate Nature Reserve on the East End of St. Croix; but, its application was denied because it refused to agree to move a proposed parking lot to a location that would have created greater impact on the environment and to the endangered species that use the Reserve for nesting. The Board of Land Use Appeals agreed with our argument that SEA had more than met the requirements for issuance of a CZM Permit. Mr. Simpson has provided pro bono advocacy in support of the protection of St. Croix’s environment for over 20 years.
  • High stakes victory. In May 2010, the U.S. Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of one of our clients in a case brought by a former employee who claimed she was terminated for discriminatory reasons. The company was uninsured and a loss would have had significant consequences for the client. The firm obtained a dismissal on summary judgment in the U.S. District Court and then successfully defended that decision on appeal to the U.S. Third Circuit.
  • We’ve moved. In February 2010, the firm moved into its newly renovated offices at the corner of Queen and Church Streets in historic Christiansted. The first floor of our building dates to the 1700s and features 21 inch thick Danish brick walls and a 11 inch by 11 inch wooden beam, 34 feet long, that supports the second floor. We suspect that the beam was once the keel of a ship that called in Christiansted Harbor. Modern improvements that benefit our clients include enhanced security (hurricane-impact resistant doors and windows, an alarm system including contact and motion detection sensors throughout) and improved network infrastructure for our computer systems.
  • Insurance Coverage success. September 2009. Just received a decision from the U.S. District Court granting summary judgment in favor of our client, Lexington Insurance Company. Lexington had interpleaded its insurance policy and was sued for breach of contract by one of the insureds under the policy. The District Court agreed that Lexington had acted properly and protected all of insureds by filing the interpleader and dismissed the breach of contract claim.
  • Moving to a new location, soon. In July 2009, we purchased a historic, but dilapidated, building in Christiansted and commenced a top-to-bottom renovation. It’s a mess right now, but it’s going to be beautiful once completed.
  • First major gender discrimination verdict against the U.S. Marshals Service — ever. The firm represented a female Deputy U.S. Marshal in a discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation case brought against the U.S. Marshals Service and January 208, a jury found that for our client on all three counts and awarded her $500,000 in damages. In post-trial motions, the judge reduced the verdict to $392,000. The case settled on appeal with a total payment of over $550,000.
  • Call in the cavalry! On October 1, 2003, the firm received an emergency call from an insurer, asking us to take over the defense of an automobile accident case scheduled for trial one week later. The only expert for the defense was subject to exclusion because his report had not been timely produced; there were few medical records in the file; the only depositions were that of the plaintiff and the defendant; and the plaintiff was trying to blackboard over $450,000 in economic damages. In less than one week we managed to put the case into shape for trial. On the first day of trial, the judge agreed with our argument that the plaintiff’s pain and suffering damages were capped at $75,000 and then granted our request for a Daubert hearing on the plaintiff’s medical expert. As a result of that hearing and while we were awaiting the judge’s ruling, the case settled on very favorable terms.
  • In Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228 (3d Cir. 2001), the firm was successful in obtaining the affirmance of a summary judgment dismissing Kmart on the basis that there was no evidence that Kmart was negligent. The Third Circuit decision establishes the important precedent that a non-employee cannot use alleged violation of OSHA standards in an effort to prove negligence.
  • In re Application for Change or Reassignment of Judge Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 144 & 155, 263 F.3d 60 (3d Cir. 2001), affirming 118 F.Supp.2d 622 (D.V.I. 2000), the firm thwarted an attempt to force the recusal of a U.S. District Judge in every case assigned to the judge that involved a particular attorney.
  • In Elcock v. Kmart Corp., 233 F.3d 734 (3d Cir. 2000), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit vacated a $650,000 damage award for personal injuries on the basis of the inappropriate admission of expert testimony under the standards set forth in Daubert. The case applied Daubert to the testimony of a vocational expert and also established the evidentiary foundation required for admission of economic expert testimony.
  • Technology Watch: The firm officially became “paperless” in mid-2002. Of course, this did not eliminate paper in the office, but every document in the office is digitized and stored electronically. Documents are only as far away as an attorney’s desktop computer. Paper copies of all files are maintained as a back up.


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