Selected High Court Decisions

Selected High Court decisions will be made available as they are scanned. The selected cases are the noteworthy ones, ones that the Judiciary believes should be published for the benefit to the public and practitioners. The High Court will not publish a case unless it satisfies one or more of the following standards: (1) the opinion lays down a new rule of law, or alters, modifies an existing rule, or applies an established rule to a novel fact situation; (2) the opinion involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (3) the opinion directs attention to the shortcomings of existing common law or inadequacies in statutes; (4) the opinion resolves an apparent conflict of authority. The great majority of High Court decisions are routine in nature and generally are of interest only to the parties. However, the public can get copies of these decisions upon request to the Clerk of the Courts. See the Disclaimer page.


  1. Bill, et al. v CEO, CA 2004-081 (12/20/06), holding that the Chief Electoral Office did not abuse his discretion in rejecting several postal ballots mailed in one express envelope and not individually so that they were postmarked on or before the date of the election as required by law.


  1. Royal Marshall Corp. v. The Assembly of God Church, et al., CA 2008-108 (08/06/08), order denying request for preliminary injunction for failing to establish irreparable harm and probability of success.


  1. In the Matter of the 30th Nitijela Constitutional Regular Session, Interpretation of Constitution, CA 2009-088 (04/17/09), Judgment re Vote of No Confidence holding vote must be taken within constitutional 10-day time limit.


  1. Joseph Rosenquist, Derivatively on Behalf of Nominal Defendant Dryships, Inc., v. George Economou, et al., CA 2009-056 (02/19/10), Order Granting Individual Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [] in a derivative action suit.
  2. CEO v. Simeon et al., CA 2008-068 (12/10/10), holding the “date of election” by which a postal ballot must be post marked is the date in the Republic, not in the country where the ballot was mailed.


  1. Republic of the Marshall Islands v. Mantiera, Cr 2011-013 (04/1311), finding “good cause” to proceed at a preliminary hearing to proceed to arraignment and trial.
  2. Yandall v. White Rivers Gold Ltd. and Mason, CA 2010-158 (05/19/11), Order dismissing cases Mason for lack of personal jurisdiction: signing stock certifications in a non-resident corporation did not amount to performing an act in the Republic.
  3. Lutz Kayser and Susanne Kayser-Schillegger v. Hon. Chief Justice Carl B. Ingram, Google, Inc., Microsoft Corp, IAC/InterActive Corp., Ybrand Digital, LTD, Yahoo Inc., CA Nos. 2010-207 and 2011-022 (08/04/11), Order dismissing cases against Chief Justice Ingram based upon absolute judicial immunity and dismissing case against the Internet Defendants on various grounds.
  4. Jack Jorbon v. Public Service Commission, CA No. 2011-154 (09/19/11), Order Denying Plaintiff’s [] Motion for Preliminary Injunction against compelled leave from Public Service employment while running for political office.
  5. Republic of Marshall Islands v. Jomuly, Cr 2011-028 (09/07/11), Order Dismissing Case for failure of the Republic to proceed with a preliminary hearing in a timely manner.
  6. Republic of Marshall Islands v. Chen, Cr No. 2010-028 (11/11/11), Judgment of Conviction and Sentencing Order for promoting prostitution.


  1. Republic of the Marshall Islands v. Lang, et al., Cr No. 2010-020 (02/13/13), order denying suppression motion as the defendant’s incriminating statement was not involuntary, extracted without informing him of his rights, nor the product of coercion.
  2. Republic of the Marshall Islands v. Zhou, Cr No. 2011-041 (02/22/13), Judgment of Conviction and Sentencing Order for promoting prostitution.
  3. In Re Citizenship of Kiritano, CA No. 2009-239 (02/27/12), Order setting out factors to be used in determining “in the interest of justice” for citizenship by registration based upon Marshall descent.
  4. Boreta Ltd. v. Constant Finance Ltd., CA No. 2011-018 (07/09/12), Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment upholding provisions of the New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards and the Marshall Islands Uniform Foreign Money-Judgment Recognition Act.
  5. Libokmeto and Waser v. Makroro, CA No. 2012-123 (07/13/12), order denying request for a temporary restraining order for the failure to certify efforts to give the defendant notice of the request or to give reasons for not giving the defendant notice.
  6. MINAJ Hldgs Ltd., et al., v. Int’l Maritime Trdg Co. Ltd., CA No. 2011-032 (07/09/12), Order Dismissing Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint for the failure to state a cause of action against the vessel owner for a third party shipper’s alleged failure to deliver goods.
  7. Matthew, et al., v. CEO, CA 2011-224 (12/10/10), Order dismissing petition by unsuccessful candidates in a Nitijela elections for failing to exhaust administrative remedies.


  1. In Re Citizenship of Cayetano, CA No. 2011-193 (03/04/13): The Court issue a decree of eligibility to register as a citizen, holding that to register as a citizen under Art. XI, Sec. 2(1)(b) of the Constitution the petitioner need only establish that he is the parent of a child that is a citizen, that he has lawfully resided in the Republic for at least three years, and that he is not disqualified in the interest of national security; the petitioner need not establish that granting the petition is in the “interest of justice,” as would be the case if he sought citizenship by descent under Art. XI, Sec. 2(1)(c) of the Constitution, nor need he establish that he is married to the mother of his Marshallese child.
  2. Capelle v. College of the Marshall Islands, CA No. 2011-095 (03/14/13): The Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff on his wrongful discharge claim as the defendant  not following its own procedures wrongfully discharged its employee.
  3. Abon v Marshall Islands Social Security Administration, CA No. 2012-025 (03/18/13): The Court held the under its regulations MISSA properly denied plaintiff survivor benefits as the customarily adopted child of the deceased worker because the worker did not petition for confirmation of the customary adoption prior to his death as required by regulation.
  4. In re Citizenship of Tamuera, CA No. 2010-114 (04/25/13): The Court denied the petitioner’s petition for citizenship by registration based upon Marshallese descent for failing to establish that granting the petition would be “in the interest of justice.”
  5. Marshall Islands Social Security Administration v. Holly, CA No. 2012-018 (05/23/13): The Court awarded MISSA penalties and attorneys fees for the defendant’s failure to timely pay social security contributions, but not finding that lease payments are compensation for purposes of calculation the contributions due.
  6. Republic of the Marshall Islands v. Betwell, Cr No. 2013-003 (07/22/13): The Court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence for the failure to advise the defendant of his rights, entrapment, or coercion, as the defendant volunteered his statement and was not entrapped or coerced.


  1. In re the Matter of 35th Nitijela Constitutional Regular Session, Interpretation of Constitution, CA 2014-081 (03/13/14): The Court held that “recess” for purposes of a vote of no confidence in the Cabinet under Article IV, Section 11(1)(b) of the Constitution means an inter-session recess, not an intra-session recess, notwithstanding the definition of “recess” in the Nitijela Rules of Procedure.
  2. In re Petition for Citizenship by Registration by Wu Jianya, CA 2014-105 (08/21/14): The Court held that to register as a citizen under Article XI, Section 2(1)(b) of the Constitution it is necessary and sufficient that a person has resided in the Republic for more than three years, is the parent of a child who is a citizen, is not disqualified on national security grounds, and is prepared to renounce one’s current citizenship and swear allegiance to the Republic, as the Constitution requires. The Constitution does not require that the person be a resident for three years on a “residence visa” or any particular visa. Nor is the person disqualified by the Republic’s unproven allegations that the person has violated the laws of the Republic.
  3. Jilly v Utrik Atoll Local Distribution Authority, CA 2014-123 (11/03/14): The Court held that by statute the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, not the High Court has jurisdiction to resolve, disputes concerning the distribution of funds by a local distribution authority.
  4. Phillip and Phillip v Attorney-General and the Republic, CA 2014-133 (12/01/14): The Court denied a motion to set aside a default judgment against the Republic, where the Republic failed to move to set aside the entry or establish grounds for setting aside the default judgment.
  5. Bank of Marshall Islands v Shamory, et al., CA 2014-228 (12/23/14): The court held that, notwithstanding contract language allowing for attorneys fees, counsel for the bank must establish that the requested attorneys fee are reasonable, as required under General Order 2005-001.
  6. Jacob v. Kendall and Remios, CA 2008-221 (12/30/14): The Court affirmed the Traditional Rights Court’s determination that defendant Kendall is the alap over the 25 disputed wetos on Wotje Atoll and Erkub Atoll as the biological child of former alap Kendal Lojen or as his adopted child that he considered his biological child under the traditional practice of “kanin lojeo,” or from my womb, such that Kendall’s rights were not subordinate to the rights of other biological members of the bwij.


  1. Niedenthal v. CEO, CA 2014-263 (02/25/15): The granted plaintiff Niedenthal’s motion for summary judgment holding that the Nitijela Act, Section 145(6) of the Elections and Referenda Act 1980, which purports to require that candidates for the Nitijela, in addition to the requirements set forth in Article VI, Sec. 4(1) of the Constitution, have a mother or father of Marshallese descent with a customary jowi, was enacted in violation of the Constitution, and therefore does not have the force of law and is void.
  2. Hitto and Emil v Toka, et al., CA 21-80 and 1986-149 (consolidated) (05/22/15): The Court ruled as follows: as to Aibwij, Hitto holds the alab interest and Emil holds the senior dri jerbal interest; as to Monke Weto, Bejang holds the alab interest and James holds the senior dri jerbal interest; and as to Lojonen Weto, Jebrejrej hold the alab interest and Kinere holds the senior dri jerbal interest. Further, the court entered default judgment against Korok and set aside the existing preliminary injunction.  Funds held in the Bank of Guam in this matter may be distributed subject to a 31-day stay, unless ordered otherwise.
  3. Majuro Atoll Local Government v. Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, CA 15-25 (11/23/15): The Court denied MALGOV’s motion for summary judgment, holding the Marine Resources Act 1997, which grants MIMRA exclusive powers and functions over fishery waters in the Republic, including the Majuro lagoon, does not violate MALGOV’s constitutional jurisdiction for the Majuro lagoon.
  4. Lamina Y Placa de Monterrey SA CV v. Star Cosmo LLC, in personam, and Daewoo Logistics Corp., CA 14-66 (12/1/15): The Court granted defendant Star Cosmo’s motion for summary judgment, holding that Star Cosmo had met its MIRCP Rule 56(a) obligations in showing (i) there was no genuine issue of material fact and (ii) Star Cosmo was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, as Lamina Y Placa had failed to offer evidence otherwise as required under MIRCP 56( c)(l )(A).


  1. Kabua, et al., v. M/V Mell Springwood, CA 2015-200 (06/20/16): The court granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss under MIRCP 12(b)(6) for the plaintiffs’ failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, holding private owners of dry land do not have a claim for damage to the reef, which by law belongs to the National Government.
  2. Asignacion v. Rickmers, CA 2016-026 (11/10/16): The granted defendant’s motion to dismiss under MIRCP 12(b)(6) for the failure of plaintiff to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The plaintiff, a Filipino seaman, sued the defendant for injuries he suffered while working on the defendant’s vessel, a Marshall Islands flagged vessel.  A state trial court in Louisiana, where the injury occurred and where the plaintiff filed suit, referred the matter to arbitration in the Philippines pursuant to the plaintiff’s employment contract.  An arbitration panel in the Philippines made an award.  Plaintiff was unsatisfied with the award and sought to challenge it in the Louisiana state court. Defendant removed the matter to the federal court.  The Louisiana Federal District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.  However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal overruled the District Court and upheld the arbitration award. The United States Supreme Court denied cert.  Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff sued the defendant in the Marshall Islands, seeking to have the High Court reject the Court of Appeals’ decision and allow the matter to go to trial.  Plaintiff brought the Marshall Islands suit three years after the statue of limitation had run. The Court held that plaintiff’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations and by res judicata.


  1. MYJAC Foundation, Panama, v Arce and Alfaro (1), CA 2016-139 (01/30/17):  The Court (i) granted the plaintiff MYJAC’s motion for default judgment against the defendants Arce and Alfaro for ownership of the shares in two Marshall Islands non-resident corporations and (ii) confirmed that plaintiff MYJAC, as the sole shareholder of the two corporation, may designate to the RMI Registrar of Corporations new addresses of record.
  2. Arno/Mili Sea Trans. Ser’s, Inc., v MV Bokan EV and Marsh. Is. Ship’g Corp., CA 2011-186 (03/15/17):  A cargo vessel owned by the shipping corporation but operated by plaintiff drifted onto a reef. Shortly after the vessel was recovered and repaired, the shipping corporation seized it. Plaintiff sued for damages and lost profits. Prior to trial, the Court ruled that the parties’ written contracts were unenforceable. As a result, only plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim was tried. The Court, relying on Section 31(1) of the Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment, held that the shipping corporation, which had paid plaintiff only one-half of the agreed copra shipping subsidies, had been unjustly enriched. The Court awarded judgment to plaintiff for the unpaid shipping subsidies, but denied plaintiff’s claim for salvage and repair costs because plaintiff was the vessel’s operator when the vessel drifted onto the reef.
  3. Nat’l Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the Marshall Islands v Huston Lokeijak, CA 2015-066 (05/30/17): The Court granted plaintiff NSAOB’s motion for summary judgment to title over land. By repeated inaction, the defendant waived his right to refer matters of customary title to the Traditional Rights Court for decision. For protracted delay, the defendant’s claims and defenses are barred under the doctrine of laches.
  4. Yamamura v Kaiko, et al., CA 2017-032 (06/12/17):  The High Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear the plaintiff’s claims against officials and employees of the Utrik Local Government Council for misusing ULGC Section 177 Funds.  By statute (42 MIRC 104 and 106(3)),  such claims are to be heard by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, and the NCT’s determinations are not subject to review by the High Court.  Pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution, the High Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to review the determination of government agencies, when review is excluded by statute.  Even though the NCT is now unfunded and no longer functioning, the High Court still does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claims.
  5. Mongaya v AET MCV BETA LLC, et al., CA 2017-044 (08/10/17): The Court issued an order granting defendants’ motions to stay action pending arbitration.  Plaintiff, a citizen of the Philippines, was severely injured while employed as a seafarer on the M/V Eagle Texas.  Under his Philippine Overseas Administration Standard Employment Contract, he is required to participate in arbitration for claims and disputes arising from his employment.  The Court, granted the defendants’ motions to stay proceeding pending arbitration, citing Sections 304 and 305(1) the Arbitration Act 1980, 30 MIRC Ch. 3, and Article II, Section 3 of the New York Convention on Enforcement and Recognition on Foreign Arbitral Awards, to which the Republic acceded in 2006.
  6. Chee v Zhang et al., CA 2016-254 (10/16/17).  The Court granted defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over the individual defendants and under the doctrine of forum non conveniens as to all defendants.  The defendants did not engage in conduct that subjected them to the civil jurisdiction of the Republic under the Republic’s long-arm statute, 27 MIRC 251, and their conduct did not meet the “minimum contacts” test for exercising jurisdiction over non-residents.  Moreover, there were alternative jurisdictions for the suit (China and Canada) and both private and public interests mitigated in favor of prosecuting the case in other jurisdictions.
  7. Hitto and Emil v Toka and Caleb v Bejang, et al., CA 21-80 and 1986-149 (10/23/17): The Court denied defendants / counterclaimants’ motion for post-judgment interest on money held by the Court for distribution to the winning party, as opposed to money the losing party is ordered to pay the winning party.
  8. MYJAC Foundation, Panama, v Arce and Alfaro (2), CA 2016-139 (01/30/17):  The Court denied the defendants’ motion to set aside the default judgment.
  9. Samuel v. Chief Electoral Officer, CA 2016-121 (12/14/17):  Plaintiff Samuel was a candidate in the November 2015 election for mayor of the Majuro Atoll Local Government (“MALGOV”). However, he received fewer votes than one of his opponents, Ladie Jack. Samuel petitioned the Chief Electoral Officer (“CEO”) for a recount. Without ruling the recount petition, the CEO, on December 19, 2015, certified that Ladie Jack had won the race. Under the MALGOV Constitution, Section 8(1), the term of office of mayor commences on the day after the day on which his election or appointment is certified. After the certification, Jack assumed office as the mayor of MALGOV. Samuel sued the CEO for certifying the results before his recount petition was resolved, and Samuel claimed that until his recount petition was resolved, he was the holdover mayor of Majuro. Samuel argued that allowing Jack to serve as mayor on a “premature certification” would be an absurd result and that the Court should interpret Section 8(1) to avoid such a result. Although the Associate Justice of the High Court found that the CEO’s certification was premature, he ruled that under a superior rule of statutory construction, i.e., the “preeminent” rule, where the law is unambiguous, the court should not interpret the law, but rather apply the law as written. And, as Section 8(1) was clear and unambiguous, he would not interpret it or rewrite it as Samuel requests. Accordingly, in denying Samuel’s motion for a summary judgment and granting the CEO’s motion to dismiss, he held that although the CEO had prematurely certified the election results, Jack became the mayor of Majuro the day after the certification.


  1. Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. v Focus Investment Ltd. and Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, CA 2017-081 (02/07/18): The Court granted defendant Karamehmet’s Motion to Dismiss, holding that to maintain an action to enforce a foreign judgment, a plaintiff must demonstrate (i) that the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant debtor or (ii) that the defendant debtor’s property can be found in the forum. On the facts presented, the Court concluded that it did not have personal jurisdiction over Karamehmet, a non-resident. Plaintiff Samsung could not demonstrate the Court had either general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction over Karamehmet. Also, the Court concluded that Karamehmet’s property, i.e., shares in Focus, were not located in the Republic. The Court found that the situs of shares in non-resident domestic corporations, like Focus, was not the Republic. To reach the shares in a corporation, the creditor must seize the share certificates, as set forth in Section 8-112(a) of the Uniform Commercial Code, which section the Court adopted as the common law of the Republic regarding reaching shares owned by a judgment debtor.
  2. RMI v Antolok, Cr 2017-020 (02/07/18): The Court granted the Republic’s motion to use hearsay evidence at the preliminary hearing, holding that the admission of hearsay testimony in  a preliminary hearing does not violate the defendant’s constitutional right to confront the witness, because the confrontation clause is a trial right that does not extend to preliminary hearings.
  3. Samuel v CEO, et al., Cr 2017-037 (08/31/18): This case is a challenge to the 2015 mayor’s election for the Majuro Atoll Local Government. Under the Elections and Referenda Act 1980, 2 MIRC Chp. 1 (“Elections Act”), the Electoral Administration headed by Chief Electoral Officer Robson Y. Almen (“CEO”) conducted the election on November 16, 2015. Appellant Samuel was a candidate for mayor, as was the eventual winner, Ladie Jack. The Court took judicial notice that of the 4,705 votes cast in the mayoral race, Ladie Jack received 2,285 votes, and Mudge Samuel received 2,132 votes. The difference in votes for Ladie Jack and Samuel was 153, i.e., 3.25% of the votes cast. Under Section 180 of the Elections Act, Samuel requested that the CEO re-count the votes for the Majuro mayor election, and under Section 188(2) of the Elections Act he requested that the CEO refer to the High Court alleged violations of the rights of voters to vote. The CEO rejected Appellant Samuel’s requests. Samuel claimed the CEO erred in rejections his two requests. The Court, however, concluded that CEO did not err in rejecting Samuel’s request for a re-count under Section 180 because Samuel had failed to show that a re-count would address any of the issues he raised or that there was a “substantial possibility” the election results would be affected by a re-count. Second, the Court concluded that the CEO did not err in rejecting Samuel’s referral of alleged violation of the rights of voters to vote, because Samuel had failed to show the CEO erred in refusing to refer to the Court violations of the right of “a person” to vote. Section 188(2) applies to the rights of “a person” not the rights of “voters” or a group of persons. In neither case did Samuel show the CEO abused or erroneously exercised his discretion.
  4. Highland Floating Rate Opportunities Fund, et al. v. Dryships Inc., et al., CA 2017-198 (09/27/18): The Court granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of standing, holding that with the re-domiciling and subsequent reorganization of the corporate debtor UDW and the discharge of UDW’s loans, the plaintiff lenders lost their status as creditors of UDW and, therefore, no longer had standing to sue UDW’s officers and directors for alleged fraudulent conveyances that gutted UDW of cash to pay the loans. Additionally, the Court rejected the plaintiff creditors’ assertion that the Business Corporations Act, Section 128(5), preserved their creditor rights as UDW creditors indefinitely after UDW re-domiciled from the Marshall Islands to the Caymen Islands.  The Court ruled that although the mere re-domiciling did not extinguish the plaintiffs’ creditor rights in UDW, corporate actions taken by UDW 18 months later under the Cayman Islands insolvency laws could, and did, extinguish their creditor rights as part of a restructuring.
  5.  Akhmedova v Akhmedov, et al., (1) CA 2018-160 (11/02/18): This is an action for the enforcement of a foreign money judgment.  The petitioner, Akhmedova, is seeking enforcement an English court’s money judgment against her former husband, Akmedov, and others.  The Court in an order granting and denying motions to dismiss concluded as follows: (1) it had personal jurisdiction over two foreign corporations that registered as RMI foreign maritime entities and used their status as such to avoid the payment of the foreign money judgment; (2) it did not have personal jurisdiction over a third corporation and Akhmedov, a non-resident; and (3) the foreign money judgment was not a judgment for marital support or a penalty.
  6. Dieron v. Star Trident XII, LLC, and Star Bulk Shipmanagement Co. (Cyprus) Ltd. (1), CA 2017-245 (11/15/18): This is an action by a Filipino seafarer for personal injuries suffered in the course of his employment upon a vessel registered in the RMI.  The seafarer sued the vessel owner but not the vessel manager with whom he had signed a standard Philippine Overseas Employment Administration contract (“POEA Contract”) to work on the vessel.  The POEA Contract contains an arbitration clause and a choice of law cause.  The vessel manager moved to intervene to enforce the arbitration clause and the choice of law clause.  The Court granted the vessel manager’s motion to intervene.  The Court found that the vessel manager had met the legal standard for intervention (see Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Berg, 268 F.3d 810, 817-8 (9th Cir. 2001)).  The vessel manager’s and vessel owner’s motions to compel arbitration and stay the matter remained pending.
  7. Dieron v. Star Trident XII, LLC, and Star Bulk Shipmanagement Co. (Cyprus) Ltd. (2), CA 2017-245 (11/23/18):  In the above action by a Filipino seafarer for personal injuries, the Court considered and granted the vessel and the vessel manager’s motion to compel arbitration and stay the matter under under the seafarer’s POEA Contract with the vessel manager to work on the vessel.


  1. Akhmedova v. Akhmedov, et al. (2), CA 2018-169 (9/17/19): The petitioner, Akhmedova, filed this action against her former husband, Akhmedov, and corporate respondents for the enforcement of two English money judgments dividing their marital assets. On motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Court dismissed the case as to Akhmedov and two corporate respondents. As to two of the remaining corporate respondents, Straight Establishment (“Straight”) and Qubo 2 Establishment (“Qubo 2”), the petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment. As to Qubo 2, the Court denied the motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case, finding Qubo 2 had not received sufficient service under the Uniform Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act, 30 MIRC C hp. 4 (“UFMJRA”), or under the due process clause of the Constitution. However, as to Straight, the Court granted the motion for summary judgment, awarding the petitioner judgment against Straight in the amount of GBP £125,569,492, fees, costs, and interest under the two English money judgments. In this connection, the Court found that the two English money judgments were “foreign money judgments” for purposes of UFMJRA Sections 402-204 and were not subject to non-recognition under the mandatory or discretionary grounds for non-recognition under Section 405.
  2. Dieron v. Star Trident XII, LLC, and Star Bulk Shipmanagement Co. (Cyprus) Ltd. (3), CA 2017-245 (11/13/19):  In an above-referenced action by a Filipino seafarer for personal injuries, the High Court granted the defendants’ motion for an injunction pending appeal.  In a November 2018 order, the High Court had ordered the plaintiff to arbitrate his claims against both defendants under the provisions of the plaintiff’s standard Philippine Overseas Employment Administration contract (“POEA Contract”).  The plaintiff appealed the High Court’s the November 2018 order to the Supreme Court.  While the appeal is pending, and contrary to the High Court’s November 2018 order, the plaintiff has proceeded with an ad hoc arbitration against defendant Trident outside of the terms POEA Contract.  In granting the defendants’ requested injunction against the ad hoc arbitration, the High Court found that the defendants had satisfied both the legal standard for an anti-suit injunction (see Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola, Inc., 696 F.3d 872, 881-82 (9th Cir. 2012)) and the legal standard for an injunction pending appeal (see Nuka v. Morelik, 3 MILR 39, 41 (2007)).


  1. Kravitz, as the Litigation Trustee for the Aegean Litigation Trust v Oiltank Engineering & Consulting Ltd., CA 2019-109 (3/03/20): In its Order Denying Motion to Intervene, the Court, following the four-part test set forth in Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Berg (“Berg”), 268 F.3d 810, 817-8 (9th Cir. 2001), ruled that the intervenor Maria Giogaki (the sole shareholder of Oiltank Enginerring & Consulting Ltd. (“OTE”)) was not entitled to intervene as of rights under Rule 24(a) of the Marshall Islands Rules of Civil Procedure (“MIRCP”). Ms. Giogaki did not meet the requirements of parts 1 and 4 of the Berg test.  Contrary to part 1 of the Berg test, Ms. Giogaki’s motion was not timely. Her motion was not timely given the stage of the proceedings, i.e., the Court had already granted plaintiff Kravitz an injunction and receiver under a default judgment.  The reason for and length of Ms. Giogaki’s delay did not justify intervention.  Granting the intervention would prejudice Kravitz in his role as Litigation Trustee.  See United States ex rel. McGough v. Covington Technologies Co., 967 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1992).  Contrary to part 4 of the Berg test, an existing party, defendant OTE, could adequately represent Ms. Giogaki’s interest as the sole shareholder of OTE.  With respect to permissive intervention under MIRCP, Rule 24(b), the Court, following the requirements set forth in Donnelly v. Glickman, 159 F.3d 405, 412 (C.A.9 (Cal.), 1998), ruled that Ms. Giogaki was not entitled to permissive intervention. As noted above, her motion was not timely and her intervention would unfairly prejudice an existing party, the plaintiff Kravitz.
  2. Cui and Gold Coast International v. Kios, Kios, and Chen dba First Gift Seafood, Co., CA 2018-029 (3/09/20): In its Final Judgment, the Court ruled that plaintiff Cui’s purported leases of Lomajurok Weto, Ajeltake Island, Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands (land held under the customary law and traditional practice of the Marshall Islands), were void because they were not approved by the applicable Alap and Senior Dri Jerbal.  Defendant Kila Kios had misrepresented to Cui that the land did not have an Alap and a Senior Dri Jerbal and that the Iroij could sign the leases for all three interests. However, Lomajurok Weto has an Alap and a Senior Dri Jerbal: Sally Jacklick and Dolores Jacklick. Under the Constitution, no lease of customarily held land is lawful or competent without the approval of the Iroij, the Iroijedrik, where applicable, the Alap, and the Senior Dri Jerbal. See Const., Art. X, Sec. 1(2). The Iroij cannot sign for the Alap and the Senior Dri Jerbal without their knowledge and consent.  Under his void leases, plaintiff Cui had paid $13,800 in rent to defendant Kila Kios upon her misrepresentations that the land did not have an Alap and a Senior Dri Jerbal. Accordingly, upon plaintiff Cui’s prayer, the Court awarded plaintiff Cui judgment against defendant Kila Kios for $13,800 in compensatory damages and $41,400 in punitive damages. With respect to defendant Chen’s lease, the Court ruled the lease was valid having been signed by the known Alap and Senior Dri Jerbal, as well as the Iroij.
  3. Edmond, et al., v. Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority and Wotje Atoll Local Government (1), CA 2016-252 (08/17/20):  In December 2014, two small fishing boats were night fishing in the Wotje Atoll lagoon without lights or personal flotation devices, which were required pursuant to certain Domestic Water Craft Regulations. The boats collided, killing Diavon Edmond (“Edmond”), who was a passenger on the boat owned by the Wotje Atoll Local Government (“WALGOV”).  The other boat was owned by the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (“MIMRA”).  Edmond’s dependents, including his wife, children, and parents, sued MIMRA and WALGOV for damages under various theories of negligence, and the High Court found the defendants liable for the wrongful death of Edmond under the theories of ordinary negligence, negligence per se, negligent entrustment, and negligent maintenance.  The High Court also discussed the doctrine of comparative negligence and the affirmative defense of assumption of the risk.  The Court deferred the calculation of the amount of damages to a later hearing.


  1. Edmond, et al., v. Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority and Wotje Atoll Local Government (2), CA 2016-252 (01/22/21):  Further to the Court August 17, 2020, Judgment for Liability, finding the defendants Wotje Atoll Local Government (“WALGOV”) and Marine Resources Authority (“MIMRA”) liable to his dependents for the wrongful death of Diavon Edmond (“Edmond”), the Court adjudged the defendants jointly and severally liable to the plaintiffs for special damages of $135,934 (lost future wages less taxes time 80% to reflect the estimated portion of the decedent’s net wages available for dependants), general damages of $67,967 (one-have of special damages), filing fees of $100, service fees, and plus-judgment interest on the above at the statutory rate of 9% per annum until paid in full.  In a personal injury tort case such as this, the usually damages at issue are (i) punitive damages, (ii) general damages, and (iii) special damages. Both general damages and special damages are compensatory damages.  Punitive damages have been defined as damages which are given as an enhancement of compensatory damages because of the wanton, reckless, malicious, or oppressive character of the acts complained of.  However, in this case, the plaintiffs do not seek punitive damages.  General damages are compensatory damages for a harm so frequently resulting from the tort that is the basis of the action that the existence of the damages is normally to be anticipated and hence need not be alleged in order to be proved. They can be recovered without proof of their amount. General damages in a personal-injury case include such matters as mental or physical pain and suffering, inconvenience, or loss of enjoyment which cannot be definitively measured in monetary terms and are incurred in addition to quantifiable damages, such as lost wages and medical expenses.  Special damages are usually synonymous with pecuniary loss. Medical and hospital expenses, as well as loss of earnings and diminished capacity to work, are regarded as special damages in personal-injury cases.  MIMRA and WALGOV claimed that damages were limited under Section 1005 of the Government Liability Act (“GLA”) to $25,000 for wrongful death.  The Court rejected the Section 1005 defense holding that Section 1005 only applied to the National Government, unless the Nitijela provides otherwise by Act, as it has done for Kwajalein Atoll Development Authority, the RMI Ports Authority, and the College of the Marshall Islands.


  1. Symphony Shipbuilding SA v Sea Justice Ltd (1), CA 2021-00835 HCT/CIVIL/MAJ (03/18/22): The High Court granted defendant Sea Justice’s motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens based upon the following legal standard set forth in Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 254 (1981), and its progeny. A party moving to dismiss on grounds of forum non conveniens must show: (1) the proposed alternative forum is adequate; and (2) that the balance of private and public interest factors weigh in favor of dismissal.  Courts routinely find that an adequate alternative forum exists in forum non conveniens cases where the defendant is amenable to service of process and the foreign forum addresses the types of claims a plaintiff has brought. The private interest factors include the following: (1) relative ease of access to sources of proof; (2) the availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling witnesses, and cost of obtaining attendance of willing witnesses; (3) possibility of viewing subject premises; (4) all other factors that render trial of the case expeditious and inexpensive. The public interest factors include the following: (1) administrative difficulties flowing from court congestion; (2) imposition of jury duty on the people of a community that has no relation to the litigation; (3) local interest in having localized controversies decided at home; (4) the interest in having a diversity case tried in a forum familiar with the law that governs the action: (5) the avoidance of unnecessary problems in conflicts of law.
  2. Symphony Shipbuilding SA v Sea Justice Ltd (2), CA 2021-00835 HCT/CIVIL/MAJ (05/16/22): The High Court denied plaintiff Symphony’s Corrected Motion to Alter Order(“Motion”) filed pursuant to MIRCP, Rule 59(e). In its Motion, Symphony asked that the Court to reverse itself and deny defendant Sea Justice’s Motion to Dismiss on grounds of forum non conveniens and then to stay the matter pending the outcome of proceedings in the PRC.  Once the PRC proceedings are concluded, Symphony would return to the High Court and seek recovery against Sea Justice of the difference between damages under RMI law and damages under PRC law. In denying Symphony’s Motion, the High Court adopted the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ interpretation of the parallel FRCP, Rule 59(e): i.e, a Rule 59(e) motion “should not be granted, absent highly unusual circumstances, [1] unless the district court is presented with newly discovered evidence, [2] [unless the court] committed clear error, or [3] if there is an intervening change in the controlling law.” McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 389 Orange St. Partners v. Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999)) (emphasis added); see id. at 1255 n.1 (“[R]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly.”) (quoting 11 Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1 (2d ed. 1995).
  3. SOF v Amos and Ten, CA 2022-00609 HCT/LAND/MAJ (12/05/22): This case involves a dispute as to who between Defendant Albert Amos (“Amos”) and Defendant Jenis Ten (“Ten”) is the proper person to hold and exercise Alap rights, title, and interests over Wonmak South, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands (“Wonmak South”), and to receive the Alap’s share of quarterly Kwajalein Land Use Agreement payments for Wonmak South (“LUA Payments”).  Under either the traditional or alternate standard for issuing a preliminary injunction, the moving party, Amos, must show that he will suffer immediate and irreparable harm if the Court does not issue the requested injunction.  This Amos has not done. In his Motion, Amos claims that absent a preliminary injunction, there will be immediate and irreparable harmed in two ways.  First, the Government’s payment of the Alap’s share of Wonmak South LUA Payments to Ten threatens, diminishes, and is detrimental to his rights as manmaron for Alap Roseline. Second, he will suffer irreparable harm from the loss of the payments. These arguments fail for the following reasons.  First, as noted above, the purpose of a preliminary injunction is to maintain the status quo.  Since Iroijlaplap Kotak Loeak’s February 22, 2021 determination that Ten is the Alap of Wonmak South, that is the status quo.  With Loeak’s February 2021 determination, Amos suffered the loss of customary rights as manmaron for Alap Roseline.  The issuance of a preliminary injunction cannot undue Loeak’s determination and Amos’s loss of manmaron rights.  Amos must await a decision on the merits.  Second, Amos claims that absent a preliminary injunction he will suffer irreparable harm through the loss of LUA Payments. However, he has failed to show that his loss will be imminent or irreparable. According to Amos, the Alap share of Wonmak South LUA Payments has been diverted to Ten since the Iroijlaplap Loeak’s February 2021 determination.  As to past payment Amos’s purported loss cannot be said to be imminent, as it has already occurred.  As to future payments, Amos has not shown that he is facing irreparable harm.  He has not shown that Ten could not repay Amos if he succeeds on the merits. Ten is also receiving the Senior Dri Jerbal share of Wonmak South LUA Payments, so would have a source of funds from which to repay Amos. See Nuka v. Morelik, et al., 3 MILR 39, 42 (2007).  Amos has failed to show he will suffer imminent and irreparable harm if the Court does not issue a preliminary injunction.  Therefore, the Court need not consider the other factors necessary for issuing a preliminary injunction, such as likelihood of success on the merits, the balance of hardships, and public policy.


  1. Resty Johnny v Majuro Stevedore & Terminal Co., Stenett, et al., CA 2021-00835 HCT/CIVIL/MAJ (03/18/22): The High Court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss under MIRCP 12(b)(6)for the failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The plaintiff claims that he was entitled to damages for the death of his adult and married son.  However, his claim was barred for several reasons.  First, the claim was barred by applicable statutes of limitations: (i) the two-year statute of limitation on tort claims; and (ii) the six-year statute of limitation on possible contract claims. Second, as to a claim for wrongful death the plaintiff (i) did not file an action within the statutory period and (ii) is not the proper person to file such an action.  Third, the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant liable under a theory of equitable estoppel.
  2. Matthew v. Andrew (former Chief Electoral Officer), Kiluwe (current Chief Electoral Officer), Secretary of Culture & Internal Affairs, et al., CN 2022-01639 HCT/CIV/MAJ (08/31/23): The High Court held the defendant Chief Electoral Officer and others liable to the plaintiff for $3,000 in damages for preventing the plaintiff from voting in the August 21, 2021 special election for Mayor of Aur Atoll in violation of her right to register for elections and to vote under Article II, Section 14(2), of the Constitution and Sections 173(2) and 173(3) of the Elections and Referenda Act 1980.
  3. Latdrik v Minister of Internal and Outer Islands Affairs and Marshalls Energy Company, Inc., CN 2021-01453 (2007-062 HCT/LAND/MAJ (09/08/23).