Hocog claims legislative immunity


Saying he was acting then as a Rota senator, Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog insists he is immune to the lawsuit filed by Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto against him and the owners of cargo ship M/V Luta.

In his response to Yamamoto’s lawsuit, Hocog claimed legislative immunity, saying the actions alleged were undertaken in his capacity as senator.

In Hocog’s two-page answer, his lawyer, F. Randall Cunliffe, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to dismiss the case in its entirety.

Cunliffe also argued that the complaint does not identify claims that give the federal court jurisdiction over them. The lawyer also denied other allegations in the lawsuit.

Last month, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied Hocog’s motion to dismiss Yamamoto’s first amended complaint against him and owners of M/V Luta.

Manglona said that Hocog’s second motion to dismiss raises defenses that were available to him when he filed his first motion to dismiss.

On Oct. 25, 2016, Yamamoto sued M/V Luta, Luta Mermaid LLC and six other defendants, including Hocog, alleging beach of contract and fraud.

On Nov. 17, 2016, Hocog filed a motion to dismiss Yamamoto’s complaint for failure to plead sufficient facts to sustain a claim of fraud.

In response, on Dec. 1, 2016, Yamamoto amended his complaint. The court then determined that Hocog’s motion to dismiss was moot.

Within hours of the court’s order, Hocog filed another motion to dismiss the first amended complaint. He asserted that the first amended complaint was not verified.

On March 7, 2017, the court denied the motion to dismiss the first amended complaint.

Last March 22, Hocog filed the motion to dismiss to first amended complaint.

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

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