COURT AWARDS $61 BILLION IN CLAIMS AGAINST CHUUK

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By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug. 16) - Superior Court Associate Judge Juan T. Lizama has ordered the State of Chuuk to pay an estate US$61.6 billion plus US$3 billion in attorney's fees over a property lease dispute.

In granting a motion for summary judgment, Lizama directed Chuuk to pay US$61,666,647,590.68 as of July 5, 2006 to the estate of Kachuo A. Eko.

The judge said Chuuk is liable to pay at daily rate of US$176,453,363.53 from July 6, 2006 until the entry of this order.

He also awarded Eko estate US$3,038,917,788.60 in attorney's fees and US$100 in court costs.

Lizama explained that his order is effectively a default judgment as Chuuk inexcusably failed to participate in this proceeding.

"This Court is powerless to re-examine the merits of the case, and can only decline to grant the judgment in favor of plaintiff if it were procured by fraud or duress, or granted by a court without jurisdiction," he said.

The judge gave Chuuk 10 days to move the court for reconsideration.

Court records show that Anderson Elon Eko, a resident of Hawaii, is the appointed administrator of the Eko estate.

Anderson Eko, through counsel Roy T. Chikamoto, filed in September 2005 a lawsuit in the CNMI Superior Court to enforce a final judgment issued by the Chuuk State Supreme Court against Chuuk.

Anderson Eko, administrator for the estate of his deceased father Kachuo Eko, asked the Superior Court to order Chuuk to pay him US$77,000 with accrued interest. He requested the court to enforce the foreign ruling as Chuuk has property located in the CNMI.Kachuo Eko and Chuuk entered into a lease agreement in which the Chuuk government leased Kachuo Eko's real property in Iras, Weno Island, Chikamoto said.

In October 1992, Kachuo Eko filed a complaint for breach of contract against the State of Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia, in the Chuuk State Supreme Court.

Chuuk answered the complaint in November 1992, and did not dispute the jurisdiction of the Chuuk State Supreme Court to hear the breach of contract action.

At the January 1993 hearing, the counsel for Eko and Chuuk appeared. The Chuuk State Supreme Court entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

The clerk of the Superior Court gave proper notice of the proceedings on December 30, 2005 as provided for in the CNMI Rules of Civil Procedure and under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).

Chuuk had failed to appear or defend against the complaint.

Lizaa ruled that FSIA is the applicable statute governing the enforcement suit filed by plaintiff against the sovereign State of Chuuk.

Lizama said the Superior Court has jurisdiction over this recognition and enforcement of foreign country judgment action under that statute.

August 17, 2006

Saipan Tribune: www.saipantribune.com

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