Alega residents seek legal action against Bluesky Communications
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — AST Telecom, d/b/a Bluesky Communications, along with senior company executives are named as defendants in a $20 million lawsuit filed earlier this month at the federal court in Honolulu in which the locally-based telecom provider is accused of violating US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laws and regulations.
The plaintiffs — Steven Jay Pincus Hueter, Rosalia Tisa Faamuli, Michael S. Kirk, and Faamuli Pete Faamuli — allege that the defendants violated FCC Rules and Regulations by improperly hanging and attaching its telecommunication cables on trees and land belonging to the plaintiffs in Alega village and on the official private Alega Marine and Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve.
Defendants further violated FCC laws by improperly hanging and attaching its cable wires on plaintiffs’ trees at heights below FCC requirements and in violation of FCC requirements for hanging cables on poles with proper clearance from trees, on Plaintiffs’ land, and on the official private Alega Marine and Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve, the complaint further alleges.
The plaintiffs claim that federal law “clearly prohibits” defendants from hanging telecommunication cables on plaintiff’s trees, or at heights lower than required for public health and safety, or improperly hanging cables on poles.
Plaintiffs allege that the defendants “are in flagrant violation of FCC Rules and Regulations for years” — since being licensed by the FCC in American Samoa.
Among the intentional, willful and flagrant violations of FCC Rules and Regulations for years, includes improperly hanging cables on Plaintiffs’ trees including special ocean growing trees specifically planted by plaintiffs that provide much needed shade for the threatened species Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas Linnaeus) and endangered species Hawkbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata Linnaeus) (on ESL- Endangered Species List) habitat and protected nesting area as well as needed protection from erosion of the coastline of Alega Bay, as well as food for the marine wildlife including coconut crabs, hermit crabs, crabs, fish.
The plaintiffs ask the court for Injunctive Relief, enjoining the defendants from:
• hanging cables and cable-related equipment on plaintiffs’ trees in a manner violating FCC rules and regulations, and
• hanging and installing and implementing cables and cable-related equipment in a manner violating FCC rules and regulations.
Also sought by the plaintiffs is $10 million each in compensation and punitive damages as well as all other reasonable costs awarded by the court.
According to court records, the plaintiffs last week served the complaint and other documents on the defendants — including chief executive officer, Justin Tuiasosopo, chief operating officer, Paul Michael Young, and former CEO, Raj Deo.
The plaintiffs have — in separate filings — petitioned the court for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”), and Preliminary Injunction against defendants to stop defendants’ alleged violations of FCC Laws, Rules, and Regulations on a private Alega Marine Protected Area, a Marine and Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve, and plaintiff’s land in Alega Village, American Samoa; and other relief.
Plaintiffs — except for Hueter — have a pending suit against the defendants at the Lands and Title Division of the High Court of American Samoa, seeking in part that defendants remove telecommunication related cables hanging in plaintiff’s trees and on plaintiff’s land in violation of FCC Rules and Regulations, according to federal court records.
However, plaintiffs say the High Court of American Samoa is not a Federal Court and does not have jurisdiction over the federal question of defendants’ violations of FCC laws, rules, and regulations — and this is the reason for the federal lawsuit filed in Honolulu.
Court records show that a conference hearing is set for early April this year. The defendants will be filing their own response to the federal lawsuit.