Cite as Sandy v. Chuuk ,
7 FSM Intrm. 316 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1995)

[7 FSM Intrm. 316]




CA No. 21-94

Soukichi Fritz
Chief Justice

Trial:  July 5, 1995
Decided:  November 8, 1995

[7 FSM Intrm. 317]

For the Plaintiff:          John Sound, Trial Counselor
                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

For the Defendant:     Ermino Fritz, Trial Counselor
                                     Assistant Attorney General
                                     Office of the Chuuk Attorney General
                                     P.O. Box 189
                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

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Torts ) Damages
     Where a defendant's negligence proximately caused plaintiffs' home to be unsanitary and uninhabitable the measure of damages is the replacement value of the personal property lost and the fair market value of a replacement rental house for the time that the plaintiff's house was uninhabitable.  Sandy v. Chuuk, 7 FSM Intrm. 316, 318 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1995).

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SOUKICHI FRITZ, Chief Justice:
     This matter came regularly before the court for trial on July 5, 1995.  The plaintiffs were represented by Mr. John Sound and the defendant appeared through counsel, Mr. Ermino Fritz, of the Attorney General's Office.  After reviewing the papers and pleadings on file, hearing the testimony presented and argument of counsel, the court being fully advised makes the following findings:

Findings of Fact
     1.  The defendant is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the sewer line which runs near plaintiffs' house in the Seletiw section of Iras Village, Weno Municipality.

     2.  The sewer line in question broke sometime in 1989 and, as a result, raw sewage flowed into the plaintiff's house and flooded the immediate area around the plaintiff's house.

     3.  The defendant failed to repair the broken sewer line for more that two years even though the plaintiff notified the defendant of the break.  The raw sewage continued to stand in and around the plaintiffs house during this period of time making the house unsanitary and uninhabitable.

     4.  As a direct and proximate cause of the defendants failure to repair the line break, the plaintiff was required to move from the house and take up residence with relatives until 1991 when line was repaired.

     5.  As a result of the initial spill the plaintiffs also suffered loss and damage to items of their personal possessions.

[7 FSM Intrm. 318]

     6.  The court finds that the plaintiff's loss of the use of their residence for a period of two years was a direct result of the defendants negligence and the court finds that the reasonable rental value of having to find another house is the sum of $400.00 per month for 24 months.

     7.  The court finds that the loss of personal property that the plaintiffs suffered as a result of defendant's negligence is the amount of $400.00.

     Based upon the foregoing the court concludes:

Conclusions of Law
     1.  That the defendants are responsible for the maintenance of the sewer line and that they had a legal duty to repair said line within a reasonable time after being notified of the break.

     2.  The court concludes that the defendant breached that duty by not repairing the sewer line for a period of two (2) years even though the defendant knew of the break in the line.

     3.  The court concludes that a direct and proximate cause of the defendant's breach of its duty the plaintiffs suffered damage in the loss of the personal possessions and by being required to vacate their house.

     4.  The court concludes that the value of the loss of their house is the fair market value of a rental house on Weno and that amount is the sum of $400.00 per month and that the plaintiff lost the use of their house for 24 months.

     5.  The court concludes that the value of the loss of the personal items is their replacement cost which the court concludes is $400.00.

     Pursuant to the foregoing findings and conclusions the court awards judgment as follows:

     It is hereby

     Ordered, Adjudged and Decreed that the plaintiff have judgment as against the defendant in the sum of $9,600.00 for the loss of use of the plaintiff's house and $400.00 for the loss of the plaintiff's personal property for a total award of $10,000.00.  This award shall bear interest at the statutory rate from the date of the entry of this judgment until paid by the defendant.  Each party is to bear its own cost.

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