Hocog motion to dismiss suit found moot


A federal judge has found moot acting governor Victor Hocog’s motion to dismiss Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto’s lawsuit against him and some owners of M/V Luta.

U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood issued the order yesterday after Yamamoto filed an amended complaint against Hocog and his co-defendants.

Tydingco-Gatewood noted that in several paragraphs, Yamamoto’s first amended complaint alleges that Hocog made specific materially false statements that induced Yamamoto to provide funding for M/V Luta.

“Thus on its face, the first amended complaint is responsive to the motion,” the judge said.

Tydingco-Gatewood vacated the hearing on Hocog’s motion set for Dec. 15. She ordered Hocog and co-defendants to respond to the first amended complaint.

Yamamoto, through counsel George Lloyd Hasselback, filed the original lawsuit against Hocog and some owners of M/V Luta for allegedly refusing to pay back the $3,399,000 that he funded for the vessel.

Yamamoto’s original complaint only used “certain defendants” to describe those engaged in the dealings.

Hocog recently filed a motion asking the court to dismiss Yamamoto’s lawsuit.

Hocog, through Guam-based counsel Jeffrey A. Moots, asserted that there is nothing to indicate that he participated in any of the allegations.

Last Dec. 1, Yamamoto filed his first amended complaint that directly named Hocog, who as then-Rota senator, allegedly promised to use his political position and influence to ensure that his investment in the M/V Luta was returned with profit.

Yamamoto’s amended complaint has the same set of defendants and claims—breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment.

In her order yesterday, Tydingco-Gatewood said Hocog asserts that the complaint fails to accuse him of any specific conduct that would support a charge of fraud.

The judge said Hocog’s name appears only in the caption and in one paragraph, which merely identifies him as a U.S. citizen who resides on Rota.

Aside from Hocog, Yamamoto is also suing M/V Luta, Luta Mermaid LLC, Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, Fidel S. Mendiola III, Fidel Mendiola Jr., and Robert Toelkes. Luta Mermaid LLC owns M/V Luta.

According to Hasselback in the lawsuit, Abelina Mendiola, Deron Mendiola, and Fidel Mendiola III are managers/shareholders of Luta Mermaid.

Toelkes is a resident of Berrytown, Kansas.

Yamamoto’s amended complaint has the same court requests.

He asked the court that the vessel be condemned and sold to pay his demands, including interest and costs.

Yamamoto also requested the court to recover from the defendants his attorney’s fees, expenses, and court costs.

The plaintiff asked the court to order defendants provide a complete and accurate accounting of the disposition of any and all funds he contributed for the purchase and operation of M/V Luta.

Last Oct. 25, U.S. Marshals Service seized the M/V Luta after Yamamoto filed the lawsuit and U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona directed the U.S. Marshals Service to arrest the cargo ship.

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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