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DeStael v. Strasburg,

ELIZABETH ANN DeSTAEL, Plaintiff

v.

KEITH HEADLEY STRASBURG, Defendant

High Court of American Samoa
Trial Division

CA No. 121-93

December 17, 1993

__________

[1] The High Court of American Samoa is empowered to enforce a judgment of any United States court or other court entitled to full faith and credit in American Samoa under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. A.S.C.A. §§ 43.1701-09.

[2] In enforcing a foreign judgment, the High Court may not relitigate the merits of the original action or consider a defense that could have been raised in the original action.

Before KRUSE, Chief Justice, and T AUANU'U , Chief Associate Judge.

Counsel: For Plaintiff, Marshall Ashley
For Defendant, Ellen A. Ryan

Order on Motions for Permanent Injunction and Enforcement of Foreign Judgment:

On August 25, 1993, a Judgment and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage was filed in the Circuit Court for Multnomah County, Oregon. Subsequently, defendant entered American Samoa aboard the yacht "Pangaea," a marital asset. On November 19, 1993, the High Court issued a preliminary injunction barring defendant from "entering onto, interfering with, or damaging the yacht." On December 16, 1993, a hearing was held concerning plaintiff's motion for enforcement of a foreign judgment and her motion for a permanent injunction. [25ASR2d97]

[1-2] The High Court is empowered to enforce a judgment of any United States court or other court entitled to full faith and credit in American Samoa under the "Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act." A.S.C.A. §§ 43.1701-43.1709; see 28 U.S.C. § 1738. In this regard, the general rule is that a court may not relitigate the merits of the original action or consider a defense that could have been raised in the original action. Bahr v. Bahr, 180 N.W.2d465,467 (S.D. 1970) (citing Picking v. Local Loan Co. , 44 A.2d 462, 468 (Md. App. 1945)); see Klee v. Cola, 401 So. 2d 871,872 (Fla. App. 1981) (citing Whiteside v. Dinkins, 97 So. 517 (Fla. 1923)).

In granting the divorce decree, the Oregon court made a factual finding that DeStael was a resident under the residency/domicile requirement of or. Rev. Stat. § 107.075. This court is thus precluded from questioning the Oregon court's findings of fact and its corresponding interpretation of Oregon law. Therefore, plaintiff's motions are granted.

It is so ordered.

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