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HomeNewsLocal newsJudge Denies Governor’s Motion Aimed to Stall New Law

Judge Denies Governor’s Motion Aimed to Stall New Law

File photo shows Superior Court Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte virtually testifying before the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee. (Screenshot)

Superior Court Judge Sigrid Tejo last week rejected Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s request for a temporary restraining order against the Virgin Islands Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation to block the implementation of Act No. 8348.

Bryan filed for both the temporary restraining order and a motion for a preliminary and permanent injunction with the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands on Jan. 28 in response to the Legislature’s override of Bill No. 33-0343, which later became Act No. 8348. The law establishes criteria for members of the Virgin Islands Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation Board, decreases the number of its members and increases the stipend members receive.

Though Tejo denied the temporary restraining order, the court scheduled an evidentiary hearing, to be held virtually over Zoom, to review the motion for a preliminary injunction at 10 a.m. Feb. 24.

“Plaintiff at this time has not persuaded the court that it should issue the requested temporary restraining order to enjoin the defendants from acknowledging Act No. 8348, which calls for the restructuring of the board of the Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation, its board and district boards,” court documents read.

The court considered four factors when deciding on the motion for a temporary restraining order: The plaintiff’s reasonable probability of success on the merits, whether the plaintiff will be irreparably injured by denial of the relief, whether granting preliminary relief will result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party and whether granting the preliminary relief is in the public interest.

Of the four factors considered, the court contended with three.

The government argued that depriving the governor of his executive power and authority would cause irreparable harm suffered by the governor, “because he will have lost control over health care policy, and as more fully explained, while Act No. 8348 remains law, his administration risks losing Medicare eligibility.”

But Tejo’s order reads, “The court is not persuaded at this juncture that the government has met the burden of showing irreparable harm.”

Within the government’s argument, the filed motion reads the granting of a temporary restraining order will “do no harm to defendants, to the contrary, it will do them a service.”

But the court found the likelihood of immediate and irreparable harm to the defendants was slight, because “the government’s arguments are not supported by facts and appear speculative.”

Additionally, the court concluded because of a “lack of evidentiary record” it was “not persuaded that it is in the public interest to enjoin any action of the defendants with respect to the restructuring of the board.”

The court will convene on Feb. 24 to address the governor’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

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