Feds accused in Hueter lawsuit oppose a 4th amended complaint
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Federal attorneys representing US Secretary of Interior, Debra A. Haaland, Chief Justice Michael Kruse and Associate Justice Fiti A. Sunia have filed a 32-page opposition to a request by local resident, Steven Jay Pincus Hueter for leave to file a fourth amended complaint against the federal defendants in connection with the local COVID-19 declaration restrictions.
“None of plaintiff’s attempted amended claims against the federal defendants would survive a motion to dismiss, and, as such, leave to file the Fourth Amended Complaint should be denied as futile,” the attorneys from the US Justice Department argued in its opposition reply filed last Friday at the federal court in Washington D.C.
Hueter’s complaint, which has been amended three times, is against current and former American Samoa Government officials regarding local COVID-19 restrictions, going back to March 2020. The federal defendants were later included. The plaintiff’s main claim is constitutional challenges to the COVID19 declarations, namely the restrictions preventing certain gatherings and activities after midnight and the unavailability of public transportation after midnight.
Samoa News notes that under the plaintiff’s third amended complaint, there are now 71 defendants — both federal and American Samoa defendants.
Earlier this month the plaintiff ask the court — through a very lengthy filing — for leave to file the 4th amendment complaint, which is also entered into records.
Federal defendants responded last Friday in their opposition motion, reiterating their previous arguments that the federal court lacks personal jurisdiction over federal employees working and residing in American Samoa because those individuals do not have sufficient contacts with the District of Columbia.
They further argued that the Court would lack personal jurisdiction over the claims plaintiff proposes to assert against Chief Justice Kruse and Associate Justices in their individual capacities.
The defense takes note that this Court has previously recognized, that plaintiff’s claims concerning purported restrictions on his religious expression are moot given the fact that the Feb.19, 2021 COVID-19 declaration superseded the prior declaration and exempted religious services.
Additionally, the April 15th declaration further removed restrictions, and plaintiff himself acknowledges in the proposed fourth amended complaint that his rights have been “substantially returned.”
With respect to plaintiff’s allegations that Chief Justice Kruse and Associate Justice Sunia “are liable as individuals to civil suit for their illegal non-judicial actions . . . associated with the misuse, misappropriation, and misallocation of federal funds, including in-part, Plaintiff’s taxpayer federal CARES Act public funds on non-coronavirus related public health emergency related intentions, uses, and purposes.”
The defense said plaintiff’s claims also fail because plaintiff’s general grievances regarding misuse and misappropriate of CARES Act government funds are not sufficient to establish standing to bring such claims. The defense cited quotes from other federal court cases to support its argument.
For the Secretary of Interior, plaintiff asserts that the “Secretary of the Interior can be ordered to exercise her plenary authority against the defendant American Samoa Government and the individuals associated with the American Samoa Government and against the Judiciary of American Samoa and against the individual Justices and Judges in American Samoa,” in connection with such claims.