Significant Cases /Settlements
The goal in every lawsuit is to resolve it as expeditiously as possible. Thus, most of the major cases handled by Joel Holt cannot be listed, as they include numerous confidential settlements, many in the multi-million dollar range. However, some cases do not settle, resulting in various court decisions and jury verdicts, some of which are included herein.
Almost 50% of Attorney Joel Holt’s caseload involves commercial litigation claims, in which he has successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in major commercial litigation. Some notable cases follow:
- Government of the Virgin Islands v. Hess Corporation, Hess Oil Corp., PDVSA-VI, et.al. Superior Court No: SX-15-CV-358. Along with Linda Singer of Cohen Milstein, Joel Holt helped obtain a settlement in 2016 valued in excess of $800,000,000 for the Government of the Virgin Islands, which also included the transfer of the closed HOVENSA refinery to a new operator who began to re-employ hundreds of workers after re-opening the site as a major oil storage facility.
- Yusuf v. Hamed, 2013 WL 5429498 (V.I. 2013). In a case involving a dispute over the control of three large supermarkets, which had in excess of $40,000,000 in cash assets on hand, Joel Holt was able to establish that his client owned 50% of the business (and its assets) despite the defendant’s position that Holt’s client was just an employee and not a partner.
- St. Croix Renaissance Group, LLLP v. St. Croix Alumina, LLC, 2011 WL 2160910 (D.V.I. 2011). This case involved a breach of contract and fraud claim resulting in a judgment in favor of his client in excess of $20 million, including interest. The case was settled by having the Defendant, a subsidiary of Alcoa, agree to clean up the significant environmental damage to this industrial site in the Virgin Islands that resulted in the judgment.
- Bennington Foods, L.L.C. v. St. Croix Renaissance Group, L.L.L.P., 2010 WL 1608483 (D.V.I. 2010). This case involved a breach of contract and tort claim asserted against a client of Joel Holt. The plaintiff’s pretrial demand was $15 million, but Joel Holt obtained a defense verdict from the St. Croix jury, who ruled in favor of his client on all issues.
- Prior v. Innovative Communication Corp., 360 F. Supp. 2d 704 (D.V.I. 2005), aff’d 207 Fed. Appx. 158 (3rd Cir. 2006). This case involved a claim for an executive pension in excess of $1,000,000 in which Joel Holt was able defeat, obtaining a defense verdict for his client after a trial. The decision was affirmed on appeal.
- Couch v. Prior, 905 F. Supp. 248 (D.V.I. 1995). Joel Holt was able to successfully restore the positions of several directors to a publically traded Delaware corporation, allowing them to retake control of the Board, essentially negating a prior injunction obtained by the other directors from a Delaware court.
- Allen-Williams Corp. v. St. Thomas Partnership d/b/a the St. Thomas Wyndam Hotel, 47 F. 3rd 1161 (3rd Cir. 1995). Although this decision from the Third Circuit was not published, it resulted in a reversal on appeal of a judgment that had awarded each side some damages, leading to a settlement where Joel Holt’s client, Allen-Williams, received a full recovery of all funds sought—a $1,500,000 settlement, including all interest. Joel Holt went on the represent Allen-Williams in several other civil cases, including a $6,000,000 settlement with one of its lenders.
- St. Croix Hotel Corporation v. Bank of Nova Scotia, 738 F. 2nd 424 (3rd Cir. 1984). Although this decision from the Third Circuit was not published, it resulted in the case being sent back to trial where there was then a settlement worth in excess of $4 million, including a cash payment of $3,000,000, and the withdrawal of an alleged interest claim in excess of $1,000,000.
Over 50% of Attorney Joel Holt’s caseload involves plaintiff’s person injury claims. Joel Holt has multiple jury verdicts and settlements in excess of $1,000,000, some ranging in excess of $20,000,000. As virtually all personal injury settlements are confidential, those settlements cannot be listed, but several of Joel H. Holt’s reported personal injury cases, including those that have resulted in significant developments in personal injury law as well, include:
- Dunn v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass, 1 F.3d 1371 (3d Cir.1993). In this en banc decision of the Third Circuit arising from a multi-million dollar verdict, the Court affirmed the constitutionality of multiple awards of punitive damages against the same party (Owens Corning) in a case that gained national attention. The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.
- Antilles School, Inc. v. Lembach, 64 V.I. 400, 2016 WL 948969 (V.I. 2016). In this appeal arising out of a $1.5 million verdict, the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands held that remittitur is abolished in the Virgin Islands
- Defoe v. Phillip, 702 F.3d 735 (3rd Cir. 2012). In affirming a ruling of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court in 56 V.I. 109, 116, 2012 WL 37404 (V.I. 2012), the Third Circuit held that the V.I. Supreme Court has the final say on interpreting local Virgin Islands law, holding that it can even overrule prior Third Circuit opinions interpreting local law. The subsequent settlement is confidential.
- Hodge v. Virgin Islands Telephone Corp., 60 V.I. 105, 108, 2014 WL 1508493 (V.I. Super., 2014). In a case involving a subsequent confidential settlement, the Superior Court held that better view of the law is to hold utilities liable for the negligence of their contractors and subcontractors.
- Carib Gas v. HOVIC, 1988 WL 142606 (D.V.I. 1988). Joel Holt represented a family who had been badly burned in a propane fire in St. Thomas, settling the case for $12,000,000. One excess carrier then retained him to seek contribution for its $2,000,000 share of the settlement. Joel Holt was successful in obtaining this amount, although prejudgment interest was denied.
While arbitration awards are not published, Joel Holt had been involved in multiple arbitration cases involving both personal injury and insurance related claims, both in the Virgin Islands and in England. The largest award involved a director’s liability E & O claim:
- Emerging Communications v AEGIS-$10,000,000 awarded by a three-member arbitration panel in favor of various directors of EmCom-2005
Pro bono work is an important cornerstone upon which Attorney Joel Holt’s practice of law has been built. His first case was a pro bono lawsuit to restore diving to the historic dive site under the Frederiksted Pier on the west end of St. Croix, where diving had been banned by the Virgin Islands Port Authority. Since then, he has regularly been involved in numerous significant pro bono matters, such as:
- Special Counsel to Government of the Virgin Islands Re Racinos in the Virgin Islands, 2016. Joel Holt acted as Special Counsel to Governor Kenneth E. Mapp in the negotiation of the Franchise Agreement Between the Government of the Virgin Islands and VIGL Operations, LLC and the Lease and Sublease Agreements between these parties resulting in the Enactment of Bill No. 31-0485 by the 31st Legislature of the Virgin Islands on December 1, 2016.
- Rivera v. United States, 910 F. Supp. 239 (D.V.I. 1996). In 1996, the federal government closed all national parks as part of a dispute with Congress over the increase in the national debt. Joel Holt filed a lawsuit to enjoin the U.S. Government from closing the Buck Island National Park off St. Croix, as President Kennedy’s proclamation had declared that this park could never be closed. The U.S. District Court granted the injunction so that this park became the only park in the U.S. park system that was not closed, as reported in the New York Times and by CNN news.
- Appointment as Special Master by U.S. District Court in CEC Engery Co., Inc. v. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, 765 F. Supp. 1234 (D.V.I. 1991). The District Court noted “The special master, Joel Holt, Esq., performed his duties in a highly competent manner, and it is significant indeed that none of his numerous orders as special master were appealed to the district court.”
- Joseph v. Government of the Virgin Islands, 576 F. Supp. 1335 (D.V.I. 1983) and Joseph v. Government of the Virgin Islands, 672 F. Supp. 219 (D.V.I. 1987). These two cases involved the pension rights of territory judges under the Judges Pension Act, which had been repealed. Joel Holt was able to successfully restore these rights to all then sitting Judges of the local Territorial, now Superior Court of the Virgin Islands.
- Pichardo v. Virgin Islands Comm’r of Labor, 617 F. 3rd 87 (3rd 2010). Joel Holt was appointed by the Third Circuit to represent a pro se plaintiff in the first petition for certiorari granted by the Third Circuit to review a decision of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court. The case set the standard of review for all future such petitions.
- Hansen v. O’Reilly, 2015 WL 122257 (V.I. 2015). This case involved novel questions about recount petitions in an election in the Virgin Islands. Joel Holt’s client, prevailed and was seated in the Thirty First Legislature of the Virgin Islands.