FSM SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Marcus v. Truk Trading Corp.
10 FSM Intrm. 346 (Chk. 2001)
 
[10 FSM Intrm. 346]
 
MIKE MARCUS, for himself, and on behalf
of the WITO CLAN in Nepukos Village,
Plaintiff,
 
vs.
 
TRUK TRADING CORPORATION,
Defendant.
 
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2001-1000
 
ORDER
 
Richard H. Benson
Associate Justice
 
Decided: July 23, 2001
 
APPEARANCES:
 
For the Plaintiffs:                             Johnny Meippen, Esq.
                                                          P.O. Box 705
                                                          Weno, Chuuk FM 96942
 
For the Defendant:                          Wesley Simina, Esq.
                                                          P.O. Box 94
                                                          Weno, Chuuk FM 96942
 
[10 FSM Intrm. 347]
 
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HEADNOTES
 
Civil Procedure ) Summary Judgment and Judgment on the Pleadings
     A motion for judgment on the pleadings will be granted only if the movant has demonstrated that there are no issues of material fact, and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The moving party must carry its burden by reference solely to the pleadings, and the court must evaluate all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Marcus v. Truk Trading Corp., 10 FSM Intrm. 346, 347-48 (Chk. 2001).
 
Civil Procedure ) Summary Judgment and Judgment on the Pleadings
     Judgment on the pleadings cannot be granted for the defendant on the grounds of a valid lease agreement, or for laches, or for the statute of limitations, when the plaintiff's pleading alleges facts, which if true and they must be taken as true for the propose of the motion, would bring the signed lease's validity into question, would justifiably account for the delay in bringing the suit, and which would make it an action for a continuing trespass, for which the contract statute of limitations would not apply. Marcus v. Truk Trading Corp., 10 FSM Intrm. 346, 348 (Chk. 2001).
 
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COURT'S OPINION

RICHARD H. BENSON, Associate Justice:

     On December 17, 1987, the defendant, Truk Trading Corp., executed a lease agreement for Wito Clan of Nepukos land, signed by certain members of the Clan. The lease term was for fifteen years, starting September 1, 1985, with five subsequent fifteen-year renewals at Truk Trading Corp.'s option.

     The plaintiff in this suit alleges that the persons who signed the lease on the Wito Clan's behalf did not have the Clan's authority to do so; that for some time the Clan believed there was no lease; that when they learned one had been signed the Clan was under the impression, until it was explained to them in July, 2000, that it expired August 31, 2000, after which the land would revert to the Clan; and that those who had signed the lease were unaware of the renewal provisions. The plaintiff seeks damages for trespass.

     The defendant has questioned the named plaintiff's capacity to sue. At a June 29, 2001 hearing, it was decided, and the parties agreed, that paragraph three of the answer adequately raises the issue of the Mike Marcus's capacity to represent the Wito Clan, and that his capacity is an element of the plaintiff's case that must be proven at trial.

     The defendant has also moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, which because it is brought by motion after the answer has been filed the defendant properly deems it as a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The defendant bases the motion on the six-year statute of limitations for contract actions, laches, and the existence of a valid lease agreement. The Complaint incorporates an attached copy of the lease agreement.

     The standard for evaluating a motion for judgment on the pleadings is almost identical to that for evaluating a motion for summary judgment. A motion for judgment on the pleadings will be granted only if the movant has demonstrated that there are no issues of material fact, and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The moving party must carry its burden by reference solely

[10 FSM Intrm. 348]

to the pleadings, and the court must evaluate all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Kyowa Shipping Co. v. Wade, 7 FSM Intrm. 93, 96 (Pon. 1995).

     The plaintiff's pleading alleges facts, which if true, and they must be taken as true for the propose of this motion, would bring the validity of the signed lease into question, and which would justifiably account for the delay in bringing the suit. Judgment on the pleadings therefore cannot be granted on the defendant's grounds for a valid lease agreement or for laches. Judgment on the pleadings also cannot be granted on the statute of limitations ground, because if the facts in the complaint are taken as true, as they must be for the purposes of this motion, this is an action for a continuing trespass, and the contract statute of limitations would not apply.

     The motion is therefore denied.

     The plaintiff's opposition alleged certain facts not in the pleadings. Those allegations were not considered in reaching this conclusion. The plaintiff's opposition acknowledged that because these allegations were outside the pleadings, the court might not consider them and asked leave to amend the complaint, if necessary. If the plaintiff feels that facts have come to light that need to be pled to prove the case or to add causes of action, he may file and serve, by August 15, 2001, a motion to amend the complaint along with his proposed pleading.

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