19 V.I. 434


Civil No. 576/82

Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands Div. of St. Croix at Christiansted

July 7, 1983

*435Gerald T. Groner, Esq., Christiansted, St. Croix, V.I., for plaintiffs

Charles R. Husbands, Esq., Frederiksted, St. Croix, V.I., for defendants



This is an action for equitable relief and restitution. The matter is now before the Court upon defendant’s motion for summary judg*436ment1 pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set out below, we deny the motion.


Plaintiffs, Camille Macedón, Jr. (“Macedón, Jr.”) and his wife Leona Macedón, purchased certain real property on St. Croix, known as Plot 12BD Estate Calquohoun, in 1965. The Virgin Islands National Bank held a note and first priority mortgage on the premises as collateral for a loan to plaintiffs. Macedón, Jr., defaulted on the note, whereupon the bank foreclosed and acquired title to the property by virtue of a Marshal’s sale. Def. Exhibit I.

The bank refused to refinance a loan for the redemption of the property for plaintiffs. In an effort to circumvent this problem, plaintiffs allege that Macedón, Jr.’s, father, Camille Macedón, Sr. (“Macedón, Sr.”), agreed to obtain financing for them. It is asserted that the essence of the purported agreement was:

(1) All expenses would be borne by plaintiffs.

(2) Plaintiffs would continue to live on the property.

(3) If title had to be placed in defendant’s name, then it would be, but only until title could be returned to plaintiffs.

After negotiations, the parties and the Bank arrived at an agreement. The substance of the agreement was that defendant and the Bank would enter a loan purchase agreement for the property. Macedón, Sr., would rent Plot 12BD at a rate of $1,000.00 a month for eight (8) months, the payments to be applied to the $26,000.00 purchase price of the house, if the purchase option was exercised. Def. Exhibit II.

The parties allegedly agreed that all payments, both rental and purchase, would be made by plaintiffs, although record title was to be in defendant. Plaintiffs’ posture herein is that they relied on the representations of Macedón, Sr., that he would turn title over to plaintiffs upon completion of the payment of the loan, unless it was practical to do so sooner. No document embodying all of these terms has been presented to the Court. Defendant has denied that any of *437these allegations are true and contends that no such “understanding” ever existed.2

In 1976 Macedón, Sr., further encumbered the property by a personal loan for $20,000.00. Plaintiffs were unaware of this transaction, although they resided on the premises at the time. Plaintiffs claim that subsequently in 1981 defendant told them they would get the property back only if they paid off the original note as well as the 1976 loan. Plaintiffs arranged for financing and paid off the balance on both notes. They complain now that defendants were unjustly enriched by $18,000.00, that being the amount due under the 1976 loan, which they paid off.


Summary judgment is to be entered in a case only if the pleadings, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 45(c); Poller v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 368 U.S. 464 (1962). When considering the motion, the Court clearly must resolve any doubts as to the existence of disputed issues of material fact against the movants. Hollinger v. Wager Mining Equipment Co., 667 F.2d 402, 405 (3d Cir. 1981); Ness v. Marshall, 660 F.2d 517, 519 (3d Cir. 1981) (quoting Tomalewski v. State Farm Insurance Co., 494 F.2d 882, 884 (3d Cir. 1974)); Ely v. Hall’s Motor Transit Co., 590 F.2d 62 (3d Cir. 1978).

Furthermore, the inferences drawn from evidential sources submitted to the Court must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038 (1977).

In addition, summary judgment should be granted only in clear cases. Suchomajcz v. Hummel Chemical Co., 524 F.2d 19, 24 (3d Cir. 1975); Season-All Indus., Inc. v. Turkiye Sise Ve Carn Fabrikalari, A.S., 425 F.2d 34, 39 (3d Cir. 1970). If the evidence presented in the motion is subject to conflicting interpretations, or reasonable men might differ as to its significance, summary judgment is improper. Bragen v. Hudson County News Co. Inc., 278 F.2d 615, 618 (3d Cir. 1960).

Finally, a motion for summary judgment lies only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and it is not to be used as a *438substitute for the trial of disputed factual issues. Krieger v. Ownership Corp., 270 F.2d 265, 270 (3d Cir. 1959). As a result, the Court cannot try issues of fact on a Rule 56 motion but is only empowered to determine whether there are issues to be -tried. Rosenthal v. Rizzo, 555 F.2d 393 (3rd Cir.), quoting Wright & Miller, cert. denied, 434 U.S. 892 (1973). Thus the Court’s primary function is limited to a determination as to whether a triable issue exists and not a resolution of that issue. 10 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d § 2712 (1983).


Defendants contend that plaintiffs’ suit is barred by our local Statute of Frauds because the alleged agreement to transfer the land was not put in writing.3 Plaintiffs concede that there was no formal writing4 regarding the agreement to transfer but nevertheless urge the Court to invoke its equitable powers to dispense with the requirements and thereby prevent an injustice from occurring by the invocation of the statute. In support of this theory, plaintiffs rely on § 139 of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts.5 Subsection (1) of that section provides in pertinent part:

(1) A promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance on the part of the promisee or a third person and which does induce the action or forbearance is enforceable notwithstanding the Statute of Frauds if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise. The remedy granted for breach is to be limited as justice requires.

*439Subsection (2) of § 139 of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts6 outlines the criteria for determining whether an injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the barred action.

In order to bring § 139 into play, there must have been an oral agreement (promise) upon which reliance by the promisee was foreseeable by the promisor. Plaintiffs naturally allege that such an agreement existed and defendants, conversely, deny that claim.7 Therefore, a genuine issue of material fact exists as to the existence and substance of the alleged agreement. This is a material fact8 because if plaintiffs prevail in the proof of the alleged agreement and it comports with the requirements enunciated in § 139 of the Restatement, then the Court may very well exercise its equitable powers to prevent just the type of injustice envisioned by this section. On the other hand if the plaintiffs fail in their offer of proof, the Statute of Frauds would bar the instant action.9 In any event, the Court desires further development of the facts of the instant *440action and therefore employs its discretion to deny the motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, the exception to the Statute of Frauds known as the Doctrine of Part Performance must be explored as it is recognized in this jurisdiction. Henderson v. Resevic, 6 V.I.196, 262 F.Supp. 36 (D.V.I. 1967).


In view of the foregoing, the Court finds that a genuine issue of material fact does exist and therefore defendants’ motion for summary judgment is hereby DENIED.


For the reasons expressed in the accompanying memorandum opinion, it is hereby

ORDERED that defendants’ motion for summary judgment be, and the same is hereby, DENIED.

Macedon v. Macedon
19 V.I. 434

Case Details

Macedon v. Macedon
Decision Date
Jul 7, 1983

19 V.I. 434

Virgin Islands



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