CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as First Hawaiian Bank v. Engichy
10 FSM Intrm. 536 ( Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002)
 
[10 FSM Intrm. 536]
 
FIRST HAWAIIAN BANK, a Hawaii Banking
Corporation,
Plaintiff,
 
vs.
 
ROSE N. ENGICHY f/k/a ROSE N. MORI,
Defendant.
 
CSSC CA No. 234-2000
 
ORDER
 
Soukichi Fritz
Chief Justice
 
Hearing: February 20, 2002
 
Decided: March 5, 2002
 
APPEARANCES:
 
For the Plaintiff:                                  Roy T. Chikamoto, Esq.
                                                             P.O. Box 12199
                                                             Honolulu, Hawaii 96828-1199
 
For the Defendants:                          Wesley Simina, Esq.
                                                             P.O. Box 94
                                                            Weno, Chuuk FM 96942
 
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HEADNOTES
 
Jurisdiction
     Subject matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time by any party or by the court, and if it appears that subject matter jurisdiction does not exist then the case must be dismissed. First Hawaiian Bank v. Engichy, 10 FSM Intrm. 536, 537 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Contracts; Jurisdiction
     The Chuuk State Supreme Court is a court of general jurisdiction and has concurrent original jurisdiction to try all civil cases. As such, it may exercise, subject to the principle of forum non conveniens, jurisdiction over contract cases generally, regardless of where the contract was formed, unless exclusive jurisdiction for that particular contract resides in some other court. First Hawaiian Bank v. Engichy, 10 FSM Intrm. 536, 537 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Choice of Law ; Contracts
     That a contract was formed in another jurisdiction does not deprive a court of jurisdiction over a dispute over or enforcement of that contract. It may, however, involve a choice of law problem )
 
[10 FSM Intrm. 537]
 
contract questions may need to be resolved by resort to the substantive law of the jurisdiction in which the contract was formed, but not necessarily by resort to that jurisdiction's courts. First Hawaiian Bank v. Engichy, 10 FSM Intrm. 536, 537-38 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Jurisdiction ) Personal
     To exercise jurisdiction, the court must also have personal jurisdiction over the parties. The Chuuk State Supreme Court has personal jurisdiction over all who reside or are found in the State of Chuuk and any who voluntarily appear before the court. First Hawaiian Bank v. Engichy, 10 FSM Intrm. 536, 538 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Jurisdiction; Jurisdiction ) Personal
     Lack of jurisdiction over the person is a defense that can be waived, whereas lack of subject matter cannot and requires dismissal. First Hawaiian Bank v. Engichy, 10 FSM Intrm. 536, 538 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Civil Procedure ) Dismissal; Jurisdiction
     When a court has both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over a case, a motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds will be denied. First Hawaiian Bank v. Engichy, 10 FSM Intrm. 536, 538 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
* * * *
 
COURT'S OPINION

SOUKICHI FRITZ, Chief Justice:

     This came before the Court on plaintiff's motion for an order in aid of judgment. At the February 20, 2002 hearing on the motion, Roy T. Chikamoto appeared for the plaintiff. The defendant appeared personally and through her attorney, Wesley Simina.

     At the hearing, the defendant raised the question of whether this court had subject matter jurisdiction over this case. The defendant contends that, because the loan that gave rise to the debt in this case is a contract that was formed in the State of Hawaii, a court in Hawaii must exercise jurisdiction over the case. The defendant asks that the court set aside the default judgment entered on January 31, 2001 and dismiss the case.

     The plaintiff bank states that it brought suit in Chuuk because the defendant is present here and subject to this court's territorial jurisdiction, and that by filing suit here the bank subjected itself to the court's jurisdiction.

     Subject matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time by any party or by the court, and if it appears that subject matter jurisdiction does not exist then the case must be dismissed. Chk. Civ. R. 12(h)(3).

      The Chuuk State Supreme Court is a court of general jurisdiction and has concurrent original jurisdiction to try all civil cases. Election Comm'r v. Petewon, 6 FSM Intrm. 491, 497-98, 1 CSR 5, 9-10 (Chk. S. Ct. App. 1994). As such, it may exercise, subject to the principle of forum non conveniens, jurisdiction over contract cases generally, regardless of where the contract was formed, unless exclusive jurisdiction for that particular contract resides in some other court. That a contract was formed in another jurisdiction does not deprive a court of jurisdiction over a dispute over or enforcement of that contract. It may, however, involve a choice of law problem ) contract questions

[10 FSM Intrm. 538]

may need to be resolved by resort to the substantive law of the jurisdiction in which the contract was formed, 16 Am. Jur. 2d Conflict of Laws  75 (1979), but not necessarily by resort to that jurisdiction's courts. That problem does not arise in this case.

     To exercise jurisdiction, the court must also have personal jurisdiction over the parties. The Chuuk State Supreme Court has personal jurisdiction over all who reside or are found in the State of Chuuk and any who voluntarily appear before the court. Chk. S.L. No. 190-08,  6. Lack of jurisdiction over the person is a defense that can be waived whereas lack of subject matter cannot and requires dismissal. See Chk. Civ. R. 12(h). The defendant resides here and the plaintiff voluntarily appeared when it filed suit. The court therefore had both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the case. Defendant's motion to dismiss is therefore denied.

     The parties agreed to the terms of an order in aid of judgment to be entered by the court if the jurisdictional challenge was denied. The terms are as follows: the defendant shall pay the plaintiff the sum of $300 per month, at the end of each month starting in March, 2002 until the debt is paid in full. Those terms are acceptable to the court and it is so ordered.

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