Phila. Lawyers Win $17 Mil. Jury Award in Virgin Islands Bankruptcy Case

June 20, 2011 – In The News
The Legal Intelligencer
U.S. Virgin Islands media mogul Jeffrey Prosser, who has owned telephone, newspaper, banking, cellular phone and cable television assets in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has been involved in both a Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy case that caused controversy when creditors and trustees of the estates in bankruptcy learned that Jeffrey's assets were either entirely or jointly owned by his wife Dawn Prosser. Fraudulent transfer cases were then brought upon Dawn Prosser and held in front of two juries during a trial on June 10, 2011, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sam Israel and William Stassen, who have represented the Chapter 7 estate for years, say they had never experienced a trial with two juries. Israel said having even one jury in a bankruptcy case in exceedingly rare.

The eight jurors who heard the Chapter 11 case found the Chapter 11 estate, represented by Vinson & Elkins in Dallas, TX, was owed nothing by Dawn Prosser. The jury that heard the Chapter 7 case, represented by Stassen and Israel, found the Chapter 7 estate was owed $14.8 million in cash to compensate for the assets fraudulently transferred to Dawn Prosser by her husband. They found Dawn Prosser had to return $1.2 million in diamond earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and other jewels and $1.3 million in artwork and two antique pool tables. The jury also awarded $2.9 million for fraudulent cash transfers to Dawn Prosser, more than $712,000 in monetary damages for furniture fraudulently transferred to her and nearly $11.3 million for improvements made to the Prosser's Shoys Estate property in St. Croix.

"I think they believed they were going to have the advantage" by trying the case in the Virgin Islands, Israel said. "We were thrilled that the jurors really looked at all the evidence and decided the case on the facts. In any jury trial there's always that risk that you could be perceived as the out-of-towners."

"We were very pleased with the process," Stassen said. "It was curious having two juries, but at least for us it worked out pretty well."