M/V Luta custodian says Yamamoto liable for $82,463


The custodian of M/V Luta that asked the federal court to require Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto to pay it $82,463.33 for custodian services from October to December 2016, asked the court yesterday to hold Yamamoto liable to pay the entire amount.

National Maritime Services Inc., through Sean E. Frink, however, stated that Yamamoto can ask other parties to contribute for the costs of custodian services.

The court approved NMS’ hiring as custodian of M/V Luta last Oct. 25.

Frink said Yamamoto’s himself specified that NMS be appointed and clearly set forth the proposed terms of that appointment.

Frink said it is, therefore, the NMS/Yamamoto commercial vessel custody agreement that is the basis for determining how much, when, and by whom NMS’ vessel custodian services are to be paid for.

The lawyer said NMS and Yamamoto are the only parties to the custody agreement.

Second, he pointed out, that agreement also made clear that Yamamoto “shall make future payments immediately upon presentation of written estimates for services contracted or invoices for services provided.”

Frink said Yamamoto’s response to the NMS motion concedes every underlying factual and legal basis provided by NMS.

Yet, Frink said, Yamamoto concludes his response by inviting the court to ignore his clear responsibility to pay NMS.

The lawyer said once Yamamoto has paid NMS, he will be free to file his contribution motion.

Yamamoto is suing Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog and the owners/operators of M/V Luta for allegedly refusing to pay back the $3.4 million that he put up for the vessel.

He asked the court last week not to require him to pay custodian services for the ship. Yamamoto, through counsel George Lloyd Hasselback, asserted that all intervenors should also share payment of the custodian fees.

After Yamamoto filed the lawsuit last Oct. 25, the U.S. Marshal Service seized M/V Luta. NMS was subsequently appointed as custodian.

Two companies and crewmembers of M/V Luta also joined as intervenors in the lawsuit.

Norton Lilly wants to collect from M/V Luta $131,801.10 in alleged unpaid goods and services.

The captain and six other crewmembers of M/V Luta have also intervened because they allegedly have not been paid of their wages, $183,647.77.

Long Consulting LLC, a limited liability company, has also claimed to have a maritime lien in M/V Luta after the vessel’s owners/operators allegedly failed to repay any part of their $300,000 loan or any interest.

Hasselback said they oppose the form of the order sought by NMS to the extent that it would place the entire burden of immediate payment of accrued and forthcoming custodial fees solely upon Yamamoto.

Hasselback said the various intervenors bear a degree of responsibility for the payment of custodial fees proportional to their claims upon the vessel.

Yamamoto last week asked the court to order the sale of M/V Luta to avoid its deterioration and excessive cost of keeping the vessel while his lawsuit is pending in court.

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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