CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT
TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Sefich v. Chuuk ,
9 FSM Intrm. 517 (Chuuk S. Ct. Tr. 2000)

[9 FSM Intrm. 517]

ISTER SEFICH, on behalf of her family,
Plaintiff,

vs.

CHUUK STATE
Defendant,

CSSC CA NO. 33-99
ORDER DISMISSING CASE

Keske S. Marar
Associate Justice

Decided:  April 24, 2000

APPEARANCES:
For the Plaintiff:          Repeat Samuel, trial counselor
                                     Micronesian Legal Services Corporation
                                     P.O. Box D
                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

For the Defendant:     Ready Johnny, Esq.
                                     Chief of Litigation
                                     Office of the Chuuk Attorney General
                                     P.O. Box 189
                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

*    *    *    *

HEADNOTES
Transition of Authority
     Chuuk, as the succeeding sovereign, is entitled to rely on the taking of the land in question by the Trust Territory, the previous sovereign, and is not required to correct any wrong in the original 1968 Trust Territory taking because it is now too late.  Sefich v. Chuuk, 9 FSM Intrm. 517, 518 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Property ) Adverse Possession; Transition of Authority
     When in 1968 the Trust Territory entered the land in question and, pursuant to 6 TTC 302, acquired title by adverse possession 20 years later in 1988, Chuuk is the successor to the title.  Sefich v. Chuuk, 9 FSM Intrm. 517, 519 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

[9 FSM Intrm. 518]

*    *    *    *
 
COURT'S OPINION
KESKE S. MARAR, Associate Justice:
     This case comes before the Court on suggestion stated in the Answer of the Defendant that the Court is without jurisdiction to entertain the cause of action alleged in the Plaintiff's complaint.  It is a well settled rule of law that jurisdictional issues can be raised by either party at any time or by the Court on its own motion.

     The complaint alleges wrongful entry on Plaintiff's land known as Lemeimei situated on Nema Island.  The claim for damages by Plaintiff is based on the allegation that Defendant built a classroom building on the parcel, without permission, in 1967.

     The Defendant relies on the 20 year limitation of action provided for by 6 TTC 302 as a bar to the claim by Plaintiff.  Defendant also suggests that the action is due to be dismissed under the doctrine of laches.

     The Court finds merit in both of Defendant's assertions and also that the Complaint by Plaintiff at this time is too late.

     This Court takes Judicial Knowledge that in 1967, the administration of the affairs of government was in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.  In Protestant Mission v. Trust Territory, 3 TTR 26 (Pon. 1965) the Court considered alleged wrongful acts involving land done by the Japanese Administration in a claim against the Trust Territory. The Court held:

As this court has already held, the legality of an act should normally be decided   according to the law as it was at the time the act was done and it is not a proper function of the courts of the present administration to right wrongs which may have been done by a former administration . . . .

Id. at 30.

     In Wasisang v. Trust Territory, 1 TTR 14 (Pal. 1952) the Japanese Administration took land of the Plaintiff in 1918.  Suit was filed in 1952 alleging wrongful taking and demanding return of the land from the Trust Territory.  The Court said:

So far as property rights are concerned, the present government of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands is in a position like that of a succeeding sovereign taking over the government of land conquered by it or ceded to it by another nation.  . . . [T]he present administration is entitled to rely upon and respect the official acts of the Japanese administration of these islands and is not required as a matter of right to correct wrongs which the former administration may have done . . . .  The general rule is that it is not a proper function of the courts of the present administration to right wrongs which may have for many years before been persisted in by the former administration.

Id. at 16.

     In applying these rules to the present case, it is easily seen that Chuuk State is entitled to rely on the taking of the land in question by the Trust Territory, the previous sovereign, and that Chuuk State is not required to correct any wrong in the original taking by the Trust Territory.  It is now too late.  See Martin v. Trust Territory, 1 TTR 481 (Pal. 1958), which held that the Court is without

[9 FSM Intrm. 519]

jurisdiction over a suit to reclaim land after 30 years.

     The Trust Territory entered the land in question in 1968 and pursuant to the 6 TTC 302, acquired title by adverse possession 20 years later in 1988.  Chuuk State is the successor to the title held by the Trust Territory at that time.

     In view of the foregoing analysis, any discussion of the limitation of action provided for by 6 TTC 302 as to Chuuk State and the Doctrine of Laches is unnecessary and the case is due to be dismissed, and it is so ordered.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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