Tuitasi v. Toluao_1

 

VAIULA TEETAI TUITASI, FALESELAU FALEAFAGA TUITASI, and TUITASI PISAINA FAAMASNI, on behalf of himself and the TUITASI FAMILY, Plaintiffs,

 

v.

 

TOLUAO SAUTA`ATIA, on behalf of himself and Members of the TOLUAO FAMILY, JOHN PURVIS, EFVJ TRUCKING CO., JOHN EMANUEL PU`E, and DOES I-V, Defendants.

 

___________________________________

 

TUILEFANO VAELA`A and MALAOTA LAFI, Intervenors.

 

High Court of American Samoa

 

Land and Titles Division

 

LT No. 06-04

 

April 14, 2004

 

[1] Where there were serious issues regarding ownership of the land that required further in-depth consideration and that provided a reasonable expectation of the plaintiffs’ ultimate success, there was a “substantial likelihood” that the plaintiffs would prevail at trial on their requested permanent injunction, and the court accordingly granted the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.

 

[2] Where the defendants’ actions had caused, and if left unrestrained would continue to cause, permanent and irreplaceable damage to the disputed land to the plaintiffs’ serious detriment, the court granted the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.

 

Before RICHMOND, Associate Justice, SAGAPOLUTELE, Associate Judge, and MAMEA, Associate Judge. 258

 

Counsel: For Plaintiffs, Marie A. Lafaele

 

For Defendants, S. Salanoa Aumoeualogo

 

For Intervenors, Isa-Lei Iuli, L.P.

 

PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND

 

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO INTERVENE

 

I. Preliminary Injunction Application

 

Plaintiffs’ application for a preliminary injunction was heard on March 31 and April 2, 2004. On April 12, 2004, the Court inspected the land area at issue, located on the mountain and slopes below, north of the village proper of Malaeloa, American Samoa, and named “Taloamamao” by Plaintiffs. Both counsel were present throughout the hearing and during the inspection.

 

[1] We find under the evidence that there are serious issues regarding ownership of the land at issue that require further in-depth consideration and provide a reasonable expectation of Plaintiffs’ ultimate success. We therefore conclude, on the basis of this finding, that there is a substantial likelihood that Plaintiffs will prevail at trial on the merits and a permanent injunction will be issued against Defendants. A.S.C.A. § 43.1301(j)(1); see Samoa Aviation Inc. v. Bendall, 28 A.S.R.2d 101, 103-104 (Trial Div. 1995).

 

[2] We also find that cinder excavation from the disputed land by and under the direction of Defendants has caused, and if continued in the immediate future without restraint will further cause, permanent and irreplaceable damage to the disputed land, and possibly to adjacent land down the mountainside, to Plaintiffs’ serious detriment. We therefore conclude that great or irreparable injury will result to Plaintiffs before a full and final trial can be held on whether a permanent injunction should issue. A.S.C.A. § 43.1301(j)(2); see Bendall, 28 A.S.R.2d at 103, 105.

 

Accordingly, the sufficient grounds required by A.S.C.A. § 43.1301(j) for issuance of a preliminary injunction are present.

 

II. Intervention Application

 

On April 12, 2004, Intervenors moved to intervene in this action and were present at the site inspection. While at this location, through counsel, we inquired and received Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ consent to allow the proposed intervention without a formal hearing.

 

Order

 

1. While this action is pending, or until further order of the Court, 259

 

Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and those persons in active concert or participation with them, are enjoined from mining, excavating, processing, or removing rocks, dirt, any other natural materials, or planted trees or crops from the land Plaintiffs have identified by the name “Taloamamao.”

 

2. The motion to intervene is granted.

 

It is so ordered.