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!