This opinion isn't big news, but come on, it's about two of our favorite topics (eminent domain and appellate jurisdiction), it's short, and it's from the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands. How often do we get those? Plus, we're just interested in how courts from fellow island jurisdictions rule.
Bottom line: in a quick-take action, a trial court's order rejecting a property owner's claim that the condemnor did not have the power of eminent domain is interlocutory, and is not immediately appealable. Go determine compensation, enter a final judgment, and then you can appeal the whole case.
This doesn't make much sense, practically. If the condemnor does not have the power to take the property, why should the parties incur the costs and delay in determining valuation? In our home island jurisdiction, a property owner is entitled by statute to calendar preference, and an immediate interlocutory appeal of a trial court's decision upholding the power to take. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 101-34.
And that was the V.I. court's problem: the court's jurisdiction is determined by statute, and the statute, unlike Hawaii's, is limited to final judgments. V.I.'s statute is modeled, "word-for-word identical" to the federal Declaration of Taking Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court has held that there is no right to appeal a quick take before entry of final judgment.