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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (January 20, 1998 - Samoa News)---Don Fuimaono, President of the American Samoa Track and Field Association (ASTFA), has filed a $10+ million lawsuit against the Samoa News.

Fuimaono claims that an article published in the Samoa News on July 23, 1997 contained numerous false statements, and that those statements exposed Fuimaono to "public hatred, contempt and ridicule" and impeached Fuimaono's "honesty, integrity, virtue and reputation."

As a result, Fuimaono claims to have suffered great injury and damage, including loss of potential business ventures, personal embarrassment and humiliation, and resultant mental anguish, acute nervousness and insomnia.

To compensate for these injuries, Fuimaono is seeking $5.25 million, and he is also seeking an additional $5 million to punish the Samoa News, which he claims acted with "malicious, negligent, inexcusable and reckless disregard" for the truth.

The article in question was written by Lewis Wolman (who is also being sued) and was based on an interview with Duke Uperesa concerning the Track and Field Association and its preparations for the South Pacific Mini-Games (which were, at that point, three weeks in the future).

Uperesa had resigned as the Mini-Games Track and Field Coach and the Secretary General of the ASTFA only two days prior to the interview in question.

The article quoted Uperesa extensively and much of what Uperesa had to say was critical of the Association.

Fuimaono, who was off-island at the time the article was published, claims the comments from Uperesa were untrue, and that the falsity of the comments would have been disclosed to the Samoa News if the newspaper had made "any proper or reasonable inquiry."

Samoa News Publisher and Editor Lewis Wolman said yesterday that the newspaper would be responding the lawsuit in the appropriate forum. But at this point, Wolman wants the newspaper's readers to know that the Samoa News "made numerous attempts to get answers from Fuimaono and the American Samoa National Olympic Committee about Track and Field Association matters, before and after the article in question, and those attempts were unsuccessful."

This is the third defamation/libel lawsuit filed against the Samoa News in the past 15 years. Samoa News offered no settlement in the other two lawsuits and the plaintiffs never pursued a trial on the merits of their claims.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to .

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