Togotogo; Sotoa v.

SOTOA S. SAVALI, Plaintiff



High Court of American Samoa
Land and Titles Division

LT No. 8-88


Hardship is one factor determining whether injunction.

the court must consider in to issue a preliminary

Preliminary injunction restraining defendants from further construction on specified lands until land use and building permit applications are approved by plaintiff was appropriate where (1) the plaintiff objected to the construction only because the defendants had undermined his authority as senior matai by holding themselves out on the permits as owners of the land; (2) plaintiff's claim was supported by the preponderance of the evidence at the preliminary hearing; and (3) the injunction would not cause hardship to defendants by preventing their construction, since plaintiff had given his word that he would approve the permits if they were submitted to him.

Before KRUSE, Associate Justice, AFUOLA, Associate Judge, and VAIVAO, Associate Judge.

Counsel: For Plaintiff, Tau'ese P. Sunia
For Defendants, Charles Ala'ilima


The defendants, Togotogo Leatuaina, Sinapati Leifitele Sotoa, and each of them, their respective aiga, agents, servants, attorneys and all those in active concert with them are hereby enjoined and restrained from any further building, construction or erection of structures upon lands "Masina " located in Tau, American Samoa, pursuant to [7ASR2d94] Government of American Samoa Coastal Management Program, Development Planning Office Land Use & Building Permit Applications Nos. T9637-A dated 11/12/87; and T9614-A dated 11/24/87, for "FEMA" housing assistance, unless and until such Land Use & Building Permit Applications, or any succeeding applications therefor, have also been approved in writing by plaintiff Sotoa Savali or further Order of Court.


Our reasons for the foregoing are as follows: this dispute would be non-existent had the building permits referenced been routed to plaintiff Sotoa for written approval. The plaintiff's position is that he has no objections to the proposed respective building by the defendants. He does object to what he regards as defendants' attempts to undermine the "pule" of the senior matai to the building sites (parts of land "Masina" said to be the communal property of the Sotoa family) by their respective holding out in the said building permits as variously the owners of the land sites.

Defendant Sinapati Sotoa has avoided confronting these claims at this time by offering to desist from any further building and hence submit himself to a restraining order prayed for, while defendant Togotogo Leatuaina has countered wi th the claim that those parts of "Masina " incorporating his building site are in fact the communal property of the Togotogo family.

We are not convinced, for the limited purposes of this hearing, that the evidence preponderates in favor of Togotogo. We are mindful nonetheless of that competing factor requiring our consideration, namely, "hardship", and the possibility that defendants may lose their opportunities to participate in federal emergency housing aid because of the interval pending final disposition hereof. Accordingly it is the Court's sentiment to maintain the status quo by holding plaintiff to his word of approval and offering defendants the option of participating in federal aid by submitting their respective Land Use & Building Permit applications to plaintiff's approval.

It is so ORDERED.