KOSRAE STATE COURT
Cite as Jonah v. Kosrae,
9 FSM Intrm. 332 (Kosrae S. Ct. Tr. 2000)
STATE OF KOSRAE and
KOSRAE UTILITIES AUTHORITY,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 32-95
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS
Aliksa B. Aliksa
Acting Chief Justice
Hearing: October 5, 1999
Decided: March 1, 2000
For the Plaintiff: Delson Ehmes, Esq.
P.O. Box 1018
Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941
For the Defendant: Ronald Bickett
(Kosrae) Office of the Kosrae Attorney General
P.O. Box 1301
Lelu, Kosrae FM 96944
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Civil Procedure ) Dismissal
A motion to dismiss based on an allegation that the plaintiff's trial testimony was untruthful and intentionally misrepresented material facts concerning the ownership of the land beneath his hotel and restaurant will be denied when the plaintiff had ownership rights to some of the land and a land use agreement for the rest and neither defendant asked whether there were other owners of the land and the plaintiff did not volunteer this information. This omission does not make the plaintiff. s testimony an intentional misrepresentation. Jonah v. Kosrae, 9 FSM Intrm. 332, 333-34 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).
Torts ) Trespass
A possessory interest in a land parcel gives standing to maintain an action for trespass and other torts. It is unnecessary to have a fee simple title to the land in order to bring an action for trespass. All that is needed is a possessory interest.Jonah v. Kosrae, 9 FSM Intrm. 332, 334 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).
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ALIKSA B. ALIKSA, Acting Chief Justice:
On August 4, 1999, Defendant State of Kosrae filed a Renewed Motion for Dismissal and/or Reconsideration of Order Denying Dismissal and Motion to Strike Testimony of Donald Jonah, based upon Kosrae Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 60. On September 15, 1999, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to the State's Motion for Dismissal. This Court held a hearing on the State's Motion for Dismissal on October 5, 1999. At the hearing, Delson Ehmes appeared for the Plaintiff. Defendant State of Kosrae was represented by Ronald Bickett. The State's Motion for Dismissal was taken under advisement.
Based upon the information submitted before this Court, and the Court having considered the Defendant State's Motion to Dismiss, the Plaintiff's opposition to the Motion, the file in this matter, and the interests of justice, Defendant State's Motion to Dismiss is denied.
Defendant State's Motion is based upon its claims that the testimony of Donald Jonah was untruthful at trial of this matter and that Donald Jonah had misrepresented material facts of the case. Specifically, the State claims that Donald Jonah testified that he was the owner of all the land beneath
the Sandy Beach Hotel and Restaurant, and that due to these misrepresentations, the State was prejudiced in its presentation during trial.
Plaintiff has opposed the State's Motion. Plaintiff claims that Donald Jonah did not intentionally misrepresent the facts concerning ownership of the land beneath the Sandy Beach Hotel and Restaurant. Plaintiff claims that through custom, Donald Jonah has ownership rights through his wife to the land at issue.
The Court has carefully reviewed the evidence presented at the hearing on the State's Motion to Dismiss. I find that the parcel at issue is parcel no. 036-K-06. This parcel of land lies beneath the Sandy Beach Restaurant and also the hotel building nearest to the Restaurant. The registered owner of parcel 036-K-06 is Teye Sigrah as evidenced by the Certificate of Title issued on June 30, 1981. Semeon Sigrah inherited that parcel from Teye Sigrah through a witnessed will dated October 15, 1988, which gave Semeon the waterside parcel. On August 4, 1993, Teye Sigrah signed a land use agreement which permitted Donald Jonah to use the waterside parcel. There is no documentation that the ownership of parcel 036-K-06 was ever transferred to Donald Jonah. Consequently, Donald Jonah has the right to use parcel 036-K-06, but does not own the parcel.
The Court has also reviewed the trial testimony of Donald Jonah regarding ownership of the land. This testimony was presented on June 15, 1999, with questioning by KUA's Counsel. A review of the transcript shows that the first question by KUA Counsel referred to whether the property by the Sandy Beach is owned by the Heirs of Jonah. Mr. Jonah replied in the affirmative. The questions that followed all referred to the land owned by the Heirs of Jonah. Donald Jonah's answers were all directed at the land owned by Heirs of Jonah. Neither Defendant asked whether there were other owners of the land beneath Sandy Beach Resort or any other land use arrangements. Donald Jonah did not volunteer this information. However this omission does not make Mr. Jonah's testimony an intentional misrepresentation.
Donald Jonah has a possessory interest in parcel 036-K-06, which give him standing to maintain an action for trespass and other torts. See In re Parcel No. 046-A-01, 6 FSM Intrm. 149, 154 (Pon. 1993). It is unnecessary to have a fee simple title to land in order to bring an action for trespass. All that is needed is a possessory interest. Ponape Enterprises Co. v. Soumwei, 6 FSM Intrm. 341, 343 (Pon. 1994). Plaintiff's interest in parcel 036-K-06 is adequate to maintain this action.
The Court concludes that the trial testimony of Donald Jonah regarding the land beneath the Sandy Beach Resort and Restaurant was not intentionally false or misleading. Accordingly, Defendant State's Motion for Dismissal and/or Reconsideration of Order Denying Dismissal and Motion to Strike Testimony of Donald Jonah is denied.