Defense calls Hueter’s request to file 4th amended complaint “futile”
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa defendants, including current and former ASG officials say that allowing local resident, Jay Pincus Hueter, to amend his complaint in connection with local COVID-19 restriction would “prejudice the ASG defendants, who are being forced to unnecessarily expend precious governmental resources defending Plaintiff’s duplicative and frivolous claims on multiple fronts.”
This is according to attorneys representing American Samoa defendants, in Hueter’s lawsuit before the federal court in Washington D.C., in the defense’s opposition to plaintiff’s request for leave to file a 4th amended complaint, which would have 71 defendants, including federal defendants — Chief Justice Michael Kruse and Associate Justice Fiti A. Sunia and the U.S Secretary of Interior.
(See yesterday’s Samoa News online for federal defendants opposition to Hueter’s request for leave to file 4th amended complaint.)
The plaintiff’s main claim is a constitutional challenge to the COVID19 declarations, namely the restrictions preventing certain gatherings and activities after midnight and the unavailability of public transportation after midnight.
However, the defense in an 98-page opposition filing, points out that despite the “necessity and success of the ASG’s COVID-19 measures, plaintiff has waged a year-long campaign against the ASG defendants and their response to COVID-19.”
At the outset of their opposition reply, the defense informed the court that Hueter has filed eleven lawsuits in three separate courts in less than a year’s time, ten of which name, in various combinations, ASG defendants, the ASG or departments or members thereof, and/or members of the ASG judiciary.
And he is now asking for leave to file an amended complaint in this case, before the parties have even reached the responsive pleading stage. Defendants say the Court should deny this latest motion because, like all of his prior complaints in this action, the 4th amended complaint “is futile for a panoply of reasons that would mandate dismissal on a Rule 12 motion.”
The defense summarized four arguments supporting its opposition motion. First, the proposed amended complaint “is futile” because this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over any of plaintiff’s prior or proposed amended claims, including because plaintiff lacks standing and has failed to meet other prerequisites to subject matter jurisdiction.
Second, the amended pleading is futile because this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the ASG defendants, all of whom reside in American Samoa and do not have any of the contacts required under the District of Columbia (D.C.) long-arm statute. The defense also cited the specific federal statute.
“Despite being thoroughly educated on the legal requirements for personal jurisdiction through multiple filings by the ASG Defendants and during the April 8, 2021 hearing,” the defense argued that “plaintiff has failed, for a fifth time, to make any factual allegations showing any grounds for personal jurisdiction over any of the ASG defendants.”
Third, the doctrine of abstention requires this Court to decline to exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims. The defense argued that there is no compelling reason for this Court to interfere with ongoing judicial proceedings in the High Court of American Samoa involving local policy issues and matters of American Samoa law that have nothing to do with the District of Columbia or even the mainland United States.
Fourth, the public and private interest “forum non conveniens” factors decisively weigh in favor of dismissal, as the more convenient American Samoa courts are wholly adequate and available to handle this case involving matters and purported claims relating solely to the territory.
(In “forum non conveniens” this common law doctrine allows a court to dismiss a civil action where an appropriate and more convenient alternative forum exists in which to try the action.)
“Allowing plaintiff to amend his complaint yet again would prejudice the ASG Defendants, who are being forced to unnecessarily expend precious governmental resources defending Plaintiff’s duplicative and frivolous claims on multiple fronts,” the defense further argued.
American Samoa defendants contend that the Court should deny the new motion “because amendment would be futile and would unfairly prejudice the ASG defendants by prolonging plaintiff’s vexatious and harassing litigation, which is ultimately destined to fail.”
They noted that as the Court previously warned Plaintiff, this is his “one last stab at filing a complaint” against the ASG Defendants. Further, this Court should exercise its inherent power to dismiss this action with prejudice.
The defense also explained the plaintiff has a “barrage of lawsuits against the ASG defendants”, totaling eleven separate lawsuits since June 2020 — six lawsuits in American Samoa, this case in D.C. federal court, plus four lawsuits in federal court in Honolulu.
All but one of plaintiff’s lawsuits involve claims against at least one of the ASG Defendants, some portion of the ASG, or a member of the American Samoa judiciary, the says.
Samoa News points out that the lawsuits at the federal court in Honolulu have Hueter and three other Alega residents as plaintiffs and those separate cases do not relate to the COVID-19 restrictions but deals with other federal issues including US Federal Communications Commissions rules.
The Honolulu federal court cases seek millions of dollars in damages against defendants, which include the US Secretary of Interior. Samoa News has reported on these separate cases pending at the federal court in Honolulu.
As previously reported by Samoa News, ASG has retained private law firms for not only this case in D.C. but the ones in Honolulu. How much ASG has spent so far in its defense, remains unknown at this point. But in the end, it’s taxpayer money, from the ASG coffer that will be used to pay the government’s legal representation.