TRUK STATE COURT
TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as O'Sonis v. Truk,
3 FSM Intrm. 516 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988)

[3 FSM Intrm. 516]

RICHKO O'SONIS et al.,
Plaintiffs,

v.

TRUK STATE GOVERNMENT,
JESSE MORI, in his capacity as
Finance Director, and
ISAUO KUENA, in his capacity
as Personnel Officer,
Defendants.

TSC CIVIL ACTION NO. 62-87

OPINION
 
Before Honorable Soukichi Fritz
Chief Justice
Truk State Court
September 30, 1988

APPEARANCES:
      For the Plaintiffs:          Machime O'Sonis
                                             Attorney at Law
                                             P.O. Box 308
                                             Moen, Truk  96942
[3 FSM Intrm. 517]

For the Defendants:          Jeanne H. Rayphand
                                             Attorney General
                                             Office of the Attorney General
                                             Moen, Truk  96942

*       *      *       *

HEADNOTES
Custom and Tradition
      In Trukese society, the husband, as the head of the household, is responsible for taking care of the family legal matters such as signing of documents, and overseeing all family financial matters.  O'Sonis v. Truk, 3 FSM Intrm. 516, 518 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988).

Custom and Tradition
Parties
      Either the husband or the wife may prosecute or defend a civil action in which one or both are parties, provided that he or she has informed his or her spouse of the representation.  O'Sonis v. Truk, 3 FSM Intrm. 516, 518 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988).

Custom and Tradition
      Even when the parties have not raised an issue of custom or tradition, the court has an obligation of its own to consider custom and tradition.  O'Sonis v. Truk, 3 FSM Intrm. 516, 518 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988).

*    *    *    *

COURT'S OPINION
BEFORE SOUKICHI FRITZ, Chief Justice:
      A motion for judgment on pleadings, as permitted by Rule 12(a) of the Truk State Court Rules of Civil Procedure, was filed in this action on October 15, 1987 by the defendants' attorney.

      The defendants asserted that they are entitled to judgment on the pleadings because the complaint filed in this action failed to state a claim against Truk State Government upon which relief can be granted; because plaintiff is not the real party in interest and therefore not the proper plaintiff; because Truk State is not the proper defendant; and because the action is barred by the statute of limitations.

      The Truk State Government, Jesse Mori, the Director of Finance, and Isauo Kuena, the Personnel Officer, are named as defendants in this lawsuit.

      The general rule is that a lawsuit must be brought in the name of the real party in interest.  Truk Civ. R. 17.  The real party in interest is the party who has the right to sue under the law.

[3 FSM Intrm. 518]

      Truk State Court Rule of Civil Procedure 17 governing the rights of parties is silent on whether or not a married person may sue or be sued without his or her spouse being joined as a party.  The rule neither expressly prohibits nor allows for the proposition that each spouse may defend or prosecute a civil action itself or on behalf of both spouses.

      In Trukese society, tradition dictates that the husband, as the head of the household, customarily is responsible for taking care of the family's legal matters such as signing of documents, and overseeing of all financial affairs in which the family may be involved.

      The FSM Constitution recognizes that "Micronesian Tradition shall be considered a compelling social purpose warranting such governmental action" as to be protected by Statute.  FSM Const. art. V, 2.

      The plaintiff has not raised the issue regarding allowance providing that a husband may handle the legal matters of his spouse; however, even where the parties have not asserted that any principles of custom or tradition apply, the Court has an obligation of its own to consider custom and tradition.

      The Constitution mandates that "Court decisions shall be consistent with the Constitution, Micronesian customs and traditions, and the social and geographic configuration of Micronesia."  FSM Const. art. XI, 11.

      The Court finds that either husband or wife may prosecute or defend a civil action in which one or both spouses may be a party, provided that each spouse has informed and full knowledge of the other spouse's representation of the fiduciary undertaken on behalf of the other spouse.

      The defendants also asserted that the Lease Agreement, which is the subject of this litigation, was made and executed between the plaintiff Richko O'Sonis and the Trust Territory Government, but not the Truk State Government; therefore, Truk State Government is not the proper defendant in this action.

      There is a question of fact concerning the possible legal liability of the Truk State Government in this case; therefore, this Court holds that the Truk State Government is the proper defendant in this case in accordance with article XIII, section 3 of the Truk State Charter.

      The Court has reviewed the pleadings on file and considered the argument on the motion by counsel and feels that there exists disputed facts regarding the applicability of the statute of limitations and the Lease Agreement and it is not proper to resolve those questions by judgment on the pleadings without giving the parties opportunities to contest their claims on the merits of this case.

Conclusion
 
      The motion for judgment on pleadings is hereby denied.

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