‘CPA not liable to pay share of Luta’s custodial fees’

File photo shows M/V Luta docked at Rota's west marina. (Ferdie de la Torre)

File photo shows M/V Luta docked at Rota’s west marina. (Ferdie de la Torre)

A federal judge has ruled that the Commonwealth Ports Authority should not be made to bear a share of the custodial fees and costs for seized cargo ship M/V Luta.

The vessel’s custodian, National Maritime Services, has demanded payment for custodial services now amounting to $124,878.

So far, only Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto has paid an initial $30,000.

U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood acknowledged CPA’s voluntary dismissal of its intervening complaint against the owners of M/V Luta.

Tydingco-Gatewood said this dismissal does not affect any compensation owed to CPA and incurred by the U.S. Marshals or by the ship’s custodian, National Maritime Services Inc. during the post-arrest and custodial period of the vessel.

Tydingco-Gatewood said no arrest warrant shall be issued as a result of CPA’s intervening complaint.

CPA voluntarily dismissed on Tuesday its intervening complaint in Yamamoto’s lawsuit against Gov. Victor Hocog and owner/operators of M/V Luta.

CPA counsel Robert T. Torres informed the court that Luta Mermaid LLC, the owner of M/V Luta, and CPA have come to terms resolving the debt owed CPA.

CPA filed the intervening complaint to collect $20,463 in alleged unpaid services from the vessel’s owner.

Tydingco-Gatewood recently stopped M/V Luta sale for 60 days, pending the resolution of some issues.

Yamamoto is suing Hocog and the owner/operators of M/V Luta for allegedly refusing to pay back the $3.4 million that he put up for the vessel. After Yamamoto filed the lawsuit last Oct. 25, the U.S. Marshal Service seized the ship. The National Maritime Services was appointed as its custodian.

Aside from the ship’s crewmembers, Long Consulting and Norton Lilly, Rota Terminal & Transfer Co. Inc., intervened in the lawsuit to collect payment from Luta Mermaid.

Rota Terminal counsel Janet H. King has asserted that their motion to intervene is timely as it was made in the earliest stages of the litigation and that no significant progress in the case has been made.

King added that Rota Terminal filed its motion less than three months after learning of Yamamoto’s claims.

Rota Terminal claims that M/V Luta owes it a total of $165,766. Paterno S. Hocog is the chief executive officer of Rota Terminal.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.