MV Luta owners, investor negotiate settlement

THE remaining defendants in the lawsuit filed by investor Takahisa Yamamoto are negotiating a settlement, according to a stipulation filed in federal court.

In Oct. 2016, Yamamoto sued the operators of MV Luta —  Luta Mermaid LLC, Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, Fidel S. Mendiola III and Fidel Mendiola Jr. — for fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

Yamamoto said the defendants owe him over $3 million.

The lawsuit also named Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog for his role in introducing the investor to the Mendiolas. Yamamoto said he relied on Hocog’s assurances and promises.

The counsel for the defendants, William Fitzgerald, on Monday requested the court to continue the hearing set for April 5, 2018 to April 26, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.

“The reason for the extension is that settlement negotiation continues between the parties,” Fitzgerald said.

At the Jan. 11, 2018 status conference, Yamamoto’s lawyer, George Hasselback, moved to dismiss the claims against Hocog and Fidel Mendiola Jr. without prejudice. 

District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted the oral motion and dismissed the case against Fidel Mendiola Jr. noting that he had not filed any counterclaim against the plaintiff.

The court, however, sustained the case against Hocog.

At the same status conference, Hasselback disclosed that Yamamoto was also considering dismissing claims against the remaining defendants.

Judge Manglona ordered the parties to work out the details as there were counterclaims filed against Yamamoto.

In their counterclaim against Yamamoto, the defendants are seeking damages for breach of fiduciary duty and violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Luta Mermaid also sought court judgment for punitive damages for  fraudulent, malicious and intentional conduct on the part of the Japanese investor.

In his lawsuit, Yamamoto asked the court to order the defendants to provide a complete and accurate accounting of the disposition of any and all funds he contributed to them for the purchase and operation of a commercial shipping vessel on Rota.

In Dec. 2017, the court ruled that Yamamoto was in a joint venture with the Mendiolas.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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