Cite as Damarlane v. Pohnpei Transportation Authority ,
5 FSM Intrm. 332 (App. 1992)

[5 FSM Intrm. 332]




FSM APP. P2-1991

Argued:  March 23, 1992
Decided:  April 30, 1992

Hon. Richard H. Benson, Associate Justice, FSM Supreme Court;
Hon. Martin Yinug, Associate Justice, FSM Supreme Court;
Hon. Andon L. Amaraich, Associate Justice, FSM Supreme Court

For the Appellants:     Mary Berman
                                      P.O. Box 163
                                       Kolonia, Pohnpei  FM 96941

For the Appellees:      Joses R. Gallen
                                       Pohnpei State Attorney
                                       Attorney General's Office
                                      Kolonia, Pohnpei  FM 96941

*    *    *    *

Appeal and Certiorari
     Where a court order takes no action concerning an existing injunction and states that it may modify the injunction depending on the happening of certain events, that court order does not come within the provisions of the rule allowing interlocutory appeals of orders granting continuing, modifying, or dissolving, or refusing to dissolve or modify an injunction.  Damarlane v. Pohnpei Transp. Auth., 5 FSM Intrm. 332, 334 (App. 1992).

Appeal and Certiorari
     The right to appeal an interlocutory order which affects an injunction is an exception to the general rule that permits appeals only from final decisions.  This exception reflects the importance of prompt action when injunctions are involved since the threat of irreparable harm is a prerequisite to injunctive relief.  Damarlane v. Pohnpei Transp. Auth., 5 FSM Intrm. 332, 334 (App. 1992).

[5 FSM Intrm. 333]

RICHARD H. BENSON, Associate Justice:
     This is an interlocutory appeal from an order of the trial division.  the issue presented is whether the appeal is permitted under FSM App. R. 4(a)(1)(B) relating to trial division actions on injunctions.  This presents a question of law. We conclude that the order is not one that may be appealed.

     The trial division, at the request of the plaintiff, issued a preliminary injunction on March 15, 1991.  That injunction enjoined the defendants and their agents from conducting earthmoving activities of any kind at the plaintiff's Mesenpal, Pohnpei home pending termination of the litigation or until further court order.

     On May 16, 1991, a hearing was held in response to defendant Pohnpei Transportation Authority's motion for modification of the injunction.  In an order dated May 17, 1991, the trial court stated that "it will be appropriate to modify or vacate the injunction, subject to the taking of steps. . .to. . . (1) assure compliance with environmental laws and regulations and (2) provide an opportunity for the Pohnpei State Supreme Court to prevent any irreparable harm to land-related rights of the plaintiffs."

     The court ordered "that this Court will be prepared to modify its injunction, issued March 15, 1991, to permit earthmoving activities authorized by the Secretary of Human Resources upon fulfillment of the following [four] conditions..."

     The court further ordered that even if these conditions were satisfied, the injunction would remain in effect until June 28, 1991 to give the Pohnpei State Supreme Court an opportunity, upon the parties' application, to determine whether earthmoving activities would cause irreparable injury to their rights.

     The plaintiffs assert on appeal that this May 17th order dissolved or modified the injunction.

     It appears that the state court did not find by June 28, 1991 that the land-related rights of the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable injury if earthmoving were resumed.

     It further appears that the four conditions have not been met.  No earthmoving, enjoined on March 15, 1991, has been done up to the oral argument in this case on March 23, 1992.

     The plaintiffs' appeal is brought under FSM App. R. 4(a)(1)(B) which

[5 FSM Intrm. 334]


     Rule 4.  When Taken.

 (1) In civil cases, by the filing of notice of  appeal as provided in Rule 3 within forty two  (42) days after the date of the entry of the  judgment or order appealed from, appeals may be  taken:

(B)  From interlocutory orders of the Federated  States of Micronesia Supreme Court trial
division  granting, continuing, modifying, refusing, or  dissolving injunctions, or refusing to dissolve  or modify injunctions.


     The record reflects that the March 15th preliminary injunction has not been modified or dissolved.  It is still in effect.

     The May 17th order took no action concerning the injunction.  It states that depending upon (1) a demonstrated compliance with the four conditions, and (2) the outcome of state court proceedings within a certain time, the court "may" modify the March 15th injunction.  The order is explicit that upon the presentation of "written and documentary evidence indicating that the conditions have been fulfilled satisfactorily" the court "may" modify the injunction.  Further proceedings are manifestly required.  The order does not, by any fair reading, modify or dissolve the preliminary injunction.

     The right to appeal an interlocutory order which affects an injunction is an exception to the general rule that permits appeals only from final decisions.  FSM App. R. 4(a)(1)(A).  The exception reflects the importance of prompt action when injunctions are involved, since the threat of irreparable harm is a prerequisite to injunctive relief.  FSM Civ. R. 65; Ponape Transfer & Storage v. Pohnpei Public Lands Auth., 2 FSM Intrm. 272, 275 (Pon. 1986).

     Considering the policy behind the exception (which permits interlocutory appeals), there is no reason to entertain this case since the preliminary injunction, issued at plaintiffs' behest on March 15th, remains undisturbed until now.

     As to the clear language of the rule, the plaintiffs have not brought themselves within this provisions.

     The appeal is accordingly dismissed.
*    *    *    *
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