Bluesky says claims by Alega residents are “patently without merit”
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Plaintiffs’ federal lawsuit is their “attempt to make a federal case out of a local real estate dispute. The actual dispute concerns the utility easement where the cables pass,” argued AST Telecom LLC d/b/a Bluesky Communications in court filings last Friday, in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of Alega residents.
And the defendants — AST Telecom along with senior company executives - are asking the federal court in Honolulu, where the $20 million lawsuit was filed last early last month, to dismiss the complaint and to deny plaintiffs’ motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or a Preliminary Injunction.
The plaintiffs — Steven Jay Pincus Hueter, Rosalia Tisa Faamuli, Michael S. Kirk, and Faamuli Pete Faamuli — allege that the defendants violated US Federal Communications Rules and Regulations by improperly hanging and attaching its telecommunication cables on trees and land belonging to the plaintiffs in Alega village and on the official private Alega Marine and Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve. (See Samoa News online Feb. 22nd for details.)
According to the defense, plaintiffs allege that defendants’ cables are physically hung on their property in a manner that violates the Federal Communications Act (Act), and seek monetary and injunctive relief under provisions of federal law.
“These allegations are patently without merit,” the defendants argued in court filings. “The Act does not even purport to address or regulate the relationship between a carrier and the owner of the land upon which a utility easement runs, or how the carrier’s cables must or must not be physically hung, let alone provide a private right of action to plaintiffs.”
Additionally, the Act does not deal with easements or how cables are physically hung. “These are matters regulated by local law, in this case the law of American Samoa,” the defense further argued. (An identical lawsuit the by plaintiffs — except for Hueter — is pending in the High Court of American Samoa.)
The defense also cited other provision of the Act which they argue doesn’t apply to the plaintiffs’ claims, as well as federal cases and decisions.
According to the defense, the complaint fails to “state a colorable or arguable claim” under the Act. Instead, the defense said, it is “wholly insubstantial and frivolous” or “patently without merit”.
Consequently, plaintiffs have failed to establish federal subject matter jurisdiction, and the complaint should be dismissed under federal court rules, the defense said.
In conclusion, the defense reiterated that the Act does not purport to address or regulate either the relationship between a carrier and the owner of the land burdened by the utility easement, or how a carrier’s cables must or must not be physically hung.
Therefore, defendants request that the court deny plaintiff’s motion, and dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to federal law.
Among company executives named as defendants in the plaintiffs’ lawsuit are Paul Michael Young, the chief operations officer (COO), and former CEO and country manager, Raj Deo.
Samoa News observed in court documents that in the defendants’ response to the lawsuit, Young is referred to as a former COO, while Deo, is the chief technical officer (CTO) as well as former CEO.