20 Apr 2017
- By Bryan Manabat – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog’s second motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against him by Takahisa Yamamoto who sued Hocog and the registered owners of MV Luta for fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
The court first denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit on March 8, 2017, having determined that the supplemental rules for admiralty or maritime claims did not require verification of the in personam claims against Hocog.
As for Hocog’s legislative immunity defense, the judge cited a previous ruling of the 2nd Circuit, saying: “It is well settled that legislative immunity is not a jurisdictional bar, but is rather a personal defense that may be asserted to challenge the sufficiency of a complaint under rule 12(b)(6).”
Judge Manglona said Hocog’s second motion for dismissal also does not raise defenses or objections that were unavailable at the time the first motion was filed.
Although the court found that Yamamoto and the MV Luta owners were engaged in a joint venture, it does not necessarily prevent Yamamoto from maintaining a breach of contract claim against them, the judge added.
The judge said she “does not find that addressing the second motion now would expedite a fair and just disposition of the case on the merits.”
For those reasons, the court denied the second motion to dismiss the lawsuit and ordered Hocog to file a responsive pleading no later than May 3, 2017.
Hocog is represented by attorney Randall Cunliffe while Yamamoto’s lawyer is George Lloyd Hasselback.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94626-us-court-denies-hocog-s-second-motion-to-dismiss-yamamoto-lawsuit