Yamamoto to drop suit vs Hocog, others


Takahisa Yamamoto is dropping his lawsuit against the cargo ship M/V Luta and its owners and Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog.

At a status conference last Thursday afternoon, Yamamoto, through counsel George Hasselback, informed the federal court of his intent to dismiss all of his claims in the lawsuit.

According to the minutes of the conference, Hasselback stated he was going to try and work out with stipulated dismissal with defendants’ counsel, William Fitzgerald, of both Yamamoto’s claims and defendants’ counterclaims, and that has not happened.

Hasselback said the motion to dismiss is without prejudice, which means that the parties may re-file the claims and counter-claims in the future.

Hasselback said he would file a short written motion reiterating Yamamoto’s motion to dismiss.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy stated that the hearing on Yamamoto’s motion to dismiss will be scheduled before Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, once it is filed.

Fitzgerald appeared as counsel for M/V Luta, its owner Luta Mermaid LLC, and Luta Mermaid officers Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, and Fidel S. Mendiola III, and Hocog.

Last April 2, Hasselback and Fitzgerald informed the court about their ongoing settlement talks.

Yamamoto is suing Hocog, Luta Mermaid, and the Mendiolas for allegedly refusing to pay back the $3.4 million that he put up for the vessel. The vessel was seized shortly after the U.S. Marshal Service seized the ship on Oct. 25, 2016. National Maritime Services was then appointed as substitute custodian of the vessel.

On Feb. 22, 2017, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge David O. Carter ordered the immediate release of M/V Luta to its owner, Luta Mermaid LLC, after Yamamoto reached the settlement agreement with the ship’s former custodian, NMS.

NMS sued Yamamoto for failing to pay custodian fees.

Following the settlement, Carter discharged the court’s previous order to show cause against Yamamoto and relieved NMS of its duties as substitute custodian for M/V Luta.

Carter found the settlement deal acceptable.

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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