Luta custodian fees now $124K


National Maritime Services Inc., which is taking care of M/V Luta while the ship’s legal case goes through the court, now wants to be paid a little over $124,000 covering four months.

In a second notice on Friday, NMS asked the federal court to order Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto and any other parties to immediately pay it $124,879 for custodian services provided during a four-month period.

The Florida-based NMS, through counsel Sean E. Frink, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to require Yamamoto and other parties to pay $76,530.32 for October, November and December 2016, together with the $48,348.76 it expects to charge in January 2017, for a grand total of $124,879.08.

Frink asked the court to direct Yamamoto to pay NMS the full amount at once.

If the court says other parties must pay a proportional share of this amount, NMS wants all parties in the lawsuit, including Yamamoto, to pay their share immediately, Frink said. At least require Yamamoto to pay his share immediately, he added.

Citing a declaration by NMS president Alan Swimmer, Frink said demand for payment of these amounts has previously been made and remains unpaid, and the M/V Luta custodian continues to accrue expenses while its invoices continue to go unpaid.

Swimmer said payment to NMS is past due and the company could potentially withdraw as custodian if no payments are made.

Last Dec. 22, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood denied NMS’ request to order Yamamoto to immediately pay $72,462.33 for custodian services from October to December 2016.

Tydingco-Gatewood ruled that all parties are responsible to share in advancing funds to the U.S. Marshal Service or the substitute custodian, in proportion to the value of their claims.

Yamamoto is suing Lt. Gov. Victor 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 M/V Luta. NMS was appointed as its custodian.

Two companies and the former captain and six crewmembers of M/V Luta joined as intervenors in the lawsuit to collect payment of various services.

Last week, Tydingco-Gatewood ordered the sale of M/V Luta in the minimum bid amount of $550,000, citing the excessive expense and disproportionate cost of keeping it and the unreasonable delay in securing its release.

Tydingco-Gatewood ordered the U.S. Marshal to sell the ship on Feb. 8, 2017, at 10am.

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

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.