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Plaintiff attorney withdraws in BlueSky termination case

reporters@samoanews.com

Attorney Sharron Rancourt who represented a couple that filed a lawsuit against Blue Sky Communications and Pulelei’ite Li’amatua Tufele Jr, Blue Sky’s Chief Operating Officer has withdrawn from representing the plaintiffs in this matter.

The lawsuit was filed by Alex Alan Lara-Ramirez against Blue Sky for breach of contract and wrongful termination and his fiancé Norma Veronica Albizures Perez filed against Pulelei’ite on allegations that he failed to incur legal responsibilities as her sponsor.

The motion to withdraw as counsel was heard before Chief Justice Michael Kruse last week. According to the motion, the attorney cited a breakdown in attorney/ client communications, making the attorney/ client relationship non-functional. 

The motion noted, among other reasons, that Plaintiffs had been seeking advice from outside advisors and were making legal decisions on their own behalf. The court granted the motion and informed Plaintiffs that they had 30 days to obtain new counsel.

Ramirez told Samoa News that they are seeking a lawyer to assist with their case, and  they will not back away.

“We are still analyzing our options and we are hoping to have our case moved to the United States, that if the judge grants it. It’s like how other cases that were initially held in the U.S. can be moved to American Samoa in the past.

“But we are leaving because we don’t have a choice and we don’t want any more problems with the AG’s (Attorney General) office,” he said.  

An email to Samoa News received Oct. 31, from the couple is stated verbatim below:

“Good afternoon, due to immigration issues it is needed to go back home, we have received a notice and need to leave asap (as soon as possible), we turn to you because we are collecting some $$$ to go back home and come back if needed due to the pending case.

"They" try to send Veronica to Auckland with no travel permit so she could be stuck in apia alone, with no funds and no knowledge of english, she could be in danger.

Any support is highly appreciated.

Alan /Veronica

Alan told Samoa News via cell phone that the letter from immigration states that they should depart American Samoa as soon as possible. However, Deputy Attorney General Elesalo Ale is denying the allegation the couple was told to leave immediately.

Ale in an email to Samoa News explained that because Norma’s immigration status is no longer valid she has the opportunity to depart the Territory voluntarily.

He added, “If they have a pending lawsuit against their sponsors, the law allows them to remain in the territory until a judgment is entered in that case.

“The deportation proceeding will proceed as indicated earlier but the actual deportation will not take place until after judgment is issued in their pending lawsuit.”

BACKGROUND

According to the lawsuit filed ten months ago, Li’amatua, who is also a lawmaker, is the legal sponsor for Ramirez’s fiancée Norma Veronica Albizures Perez, who is also a plaintiff.  

Ramirez and his fiancé are seeking to be awarded for punitive damages, compensatory damages, and incidental and consequential damages, in the amount to be determined at trial.

In the suit filed with the High Court, it says that Ramirez signed a contract on June 7, 2010 with Blue Sky as the Director of Mobile Switching Center (MSC) operations. The contract was from June 2010 until December 31, 2012, however Ramirez worked from June 2010 until "last month" when he was terminated.

According to the lawsuit there was nothing in the contract indicating an ‘at will’ employment clause and there was no early termination clause.

The incident, according to the lawsuit, started when Ramirez refused to adapt a document originally belonging to Digicel ( a competitor company) for Blue Sky's use, and in December 2011, Ramirez received notification from BlueSky that he was to be terminated from employment.

According to the lawsuit, Blue Sky’s alleged reasons for terminating Ramirez from employment are untrue and/or pre-textual and/or unclear, and since BlueSky is Ramirez’s sponsor, it is legally obligated to pay his return trip to the alien’s native country.

Blue Sky’s sudden termination of Ramirez’s employment contract and subsequent actions regarding Ramirez and Perez — both foreign nationals — stranded them in American Samoa without income sources, without family, without telephone and internet access, without a vehicle, without stable housing, and with the fear they would not fund their return airfare to his country of native origin, According to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that Puleleiite is the sponsor for Perez and incurred legal responsibilities as her sponsor, but he never intended to honor any of his legal duties as her sponsor.

Blue Sky says the contract does not provide airfare for Albizures Perez to travel to Guatemala, which is her native country, and that Perez has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against the defendants for breach of contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress, tort damages or exemplary damages.

The defendants requested the court find that the plaintiffs have no cause of action against them and order that the Plaintiffs be compensated for their costs and attorney fees wrongfully incurred.



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