Case of the Day: In re Application of Platebright Ltd.

The case of the day is In re Application of Platebright Ltd. (D.V.I. 2014). This is our first case from the District Court of the Virgin Islands, and the first § 1782 case from the Virgin Islands to be reported in a Westlaw database.

The application itself, and the outcome of the case, were entirely routine: the court granted an application for bank records relevant to a UK fraud case brought by Plateright Ltd., a UK firm, against Island Eco Resorts Ltd. and its director, Simon Piggott. There is, though, one interesting point. The application was referred first to a magistrate judge, and the magistrate issued a report and recommendation rather than a decision on the application. As I noted in a prior post, there’s a question whether a § 1782 application is a dispositive matter that must be decided by a district judge, or whether it’s the kind of matter that can be referred to a magistrate judge for a decision (subject to a party’s right to make objections to the district judge). This case implies—but doesn’t say expressly—that in the Virgin Islands, at least, a magistrate judge lacks the power to make a final decision on a § 1782 application. As we saw, a magistrate judge in the District of New Jersey (which, like the Virgin Islands, is in the Third Circuit) take the contrary view, as did a magistrate judge in the District of Colorado.

So there seems to be a split of authority developing. Stay tuned!

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