Settlement conference date set in Yamamoto lawsuit


A settlement meeting in the case filed by Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto against Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog and the owner and operators of cargo ship M/V Luta has a new date.

The U.S. District Court for the NMI reset yesterday the settlement conference on Jan. 13, 2017 at 9am at the federal courthouse on Saipan.

The conference was originally set for Jan. 12, 2017, set by U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.

It was supposed to take place before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joaquin V. E. Manibusan Jr. But because of Manibusan’s scheduling conflict, he directed the court’s clerk to secure a new date.

Manibusan ordered all parties to attend the settlement. He required each party to submit a confidential settlement letter by Jan. 9 at 3pm.

The letter should set the party’s statement of the case, including strengths and weaknesses, and the party’s settlement position, including the last offer or demand made by the party, and a statement of the offer or demand the party is prepared to make at the conference.

Yamamoto, boat captain Michael Brochon and six vessel crewmembers, Norton Lilly International, and Long Consulting, and defendants Luta Mermaid LLC, Luta Mermaid president Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, and Fidel S. Mendiola earlier informed the court that they agree to a settlement conference.

Hocog did not inform any of the parties whether he agrees, or not, to a settlement conference. Hocog did not appear at the Dec. 21, 2016, hearing.

Defendant Robert Toelkes apparently has not been served with the complaint as of yet.

Yamamoto is suing Hocog, M/V Luta, Luta Mermaid LLC, Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, Fidel S. Mendiola III, Fidel Mendiola Jr., and Toelkes for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment.

Yamamoto alleged that Hocog and his co-defendants refused to pay back the $3.4 million that he put up for M/V Luta. He asked the court that the vessel be condemned and be sold to pay his demands, including interest and cost.

With the filing of the lawsuit, the U.S. Marshal Service seized M/V Luta last Oct. 25 and appointed the National Maritime Services Inc. as custodian of the vessel.

Brochon and the ship’s six crew, Norton Lilly International Inc., and Long Consulting then intervened in Yamamoto’s lawsuit allegedly to collect unpaid wages and services.

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

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