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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

KRUSE EXPLAINS VERBAL RULING IN WRITTEN ORDER

Following his verbal ruling granting the government’s motion to dismiss a $5 million lawsuit filed by former Department of Health medical director Dr. Ivan Tuliau against the American Samoa Government and Tuiasina Dr Salamo Laumoli, Chief Justice Michael Kruse issued a written order on Thursday explaining the court’s decision.

In his suit, the plaintiff, Dr. Ivan Tuliau claimed negligence, defamation, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of his rights under the Constitution following his termination in 2010.

Assistant Attorney General Bensy Benjamin had argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed for the lack of subject matter jurisdiction, as it was improperly brought before the trial division of the court.

Benjamin noted that the essentials of a grievance filed for wrongful termination under the guise of a civil action claiming damages for loss of employment, is for the Administrative Law Judge, not the High Court.

In a five page order, the Chief Justice said that from what they gathered, Dr Tuliau was a locally licensed medical physician, who lost a government job on-island, which he claims, among other things, impacted him economically, when ASG did not renew his professional license.

The trial court said they have tried twice articulating the pleadings standards in this jurisdiction and that Dr Tuliau’s pleadings, fall short of the particularity standard and are subject to dismissal.

The trial court said the proper venue for this controversies lies with the Administrative Law Judge.

FATHER PLACED ON PROBATION FOR THREATENING DAUGHTER WITH KNIFE/GUN

A man charged by the government for threatening his daughter with a knife and then at gunpoint, was placed on probation yesterday in the High Court.

Samoa News is withholding the name of the defendant to protect the identity of the victim.

The father was initially charged with unlawful use of a weapon, third degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, and private peace disturbance, however he entered into a plea agreement with the government.  The defendant pled guilty to assault and possession of an unlicensed firearm and private peace disturbance while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

The defendant’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin, told the court she believes the defendant is truly remorseful and he loves his family very dearly.

Assistant PD Cardin said “There is not a parent in this court room that has not lost a temper with their children” She added that the defendant fully understands that physical discipline is not an answer to any problem. Miss Cardin said the defendant now believes that the old ways, physical discipline is not acceptable nowadays.

Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag said the government recently spoke to the victim, and she wishes for her father to return home.  Poag concurred with the probation report that the defendant should be placed on probation. 

Kruse said according to the probation report the defendant was trying to discipline his daughter using the weapon with the intent to scare her. He sentenced the defendant to two years probation under the conditions he attend and successfully complete anger management courses, parenting counseling, remain a law abiding citizen, not consume any alcohol, cannot enter a bar or tavern or congregate with people who are under the influence of alcohol. He was also ordered to visit the probation office. Kruse ordered the gun be destroyed by the police in the presence of the Court Marshal.

According to the government’s case the father was upset at his daughter when someone called his cell phone. A confrontation with his daughter about the call accelerated into the defendant threatening his daughter with a knife, telling her to leave the house, and when the daughter refused to leave, it’s alleged the defendant then fetched a rifle and pointed it at  his daughter, telling her to leave.

According to police the father threatened to kill his daughter while he held the gun to her face.

CURTIS YANDALL’S CASE POSTPONED

Chief Justice Michael Kruse has yet to grant or deny Curtis Yandall’s guilty plea, in connection with the death of a young man in October 2010. Yandall is charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide which are both felonies.

Yandall, who is from Pago Pago is out on a surety bond of $7,500.  According to the government’s case the victim Tualaulelei fell off a truck that was driven by the defendant, and was not immediately taken to the hospital.

Court documents state that the victim was admitted to the hospital on October 29, 2010, and the Surgical Clinic doctor, Faiaoga Tosi, said the victim suffered a broken collar bone, and cracks on the base and left side of the skull. Seven days later the victim died.

Yandall was in court yesterday morning following his guilty plea last month which the Chief Justice took under advisement, however Kruse moved to continue this matter. 

Yandall entered his guilty plea to criminally negligent homicide while the government moved to dismiss the manslaughter count.



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