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Parties in Alega telecom lawsuits ordered to submit further pleadings this month

Federal Courthouse Honolulu, Hawaii

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In a separate but similar lawsuit, US District Court Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright has raised concerns about the basis of federal jurisdiction over the lawsuit filed in April this year by four Alega residents specifically against AST Telecom, dba Bluesky Communications, along with current and former company executives, according to the latest court records.

Plaintiffs — Steven Jay Pincus Hueter, Rosalia Tisa Faamuli, Michael S. Kirk, and Faamuli Pete Faamuli — who allege, among other things, that 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.

This is the particular case against the defendants that the US Federal Communications Commission has been invited by the court to participate in as an Amicus Curiae — or friend of the court — to address specific FCC rules. FCC is expected to provide an official reply soon, after seeking to extend its timeframe for a response.

In the latest court filings in this case, Seabright noted that on May 19th plaintiffs filed a motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Preliminary Injunction pertaining to several allegedly low-hanging wires in Alega Village.

The court held a status conference on May 21st and at which time, the court “raised concerns about the basis for federal jurisdiction, as well as the basis for Plaintiffs' purported claims under American Samoa law,” said Seabright.

Accordingly, the court directed plaintiffs to file a new motion clarifying these issues. On May 30th, plaintiffs filed a “second Motion for TRO and Preliminary Injunction to immediately remedy hazardous telecom cables and electrical hazards to public safety that they claim are immediate real threat to the safety of life and property in Alega and island-wide.

The second motion adds a new defendant, the American Samoa Power Authority.

Seabright says rather than clarifying the issues before the court, the second motion by plaintiffs “broadened them, seeking additional relief and joinder of additional parties.

“The court does not see a need for immediate adjudication of the Second Motion, and requires full briefing from the parties in order to evaluate the complex jurisdictional and other issues it presents,” Seabright said.

To that end, defendants are ordered to submit an opposition to the Second Motion by June 11th and plaintiffs are ordered to submit a reply by June 18th. “The court will then decide whether to hold a hearing or to issue an order without hearing in accordance with Local Rule 7.1(c),” said Seabright, who also ordered that the second motion supersedes plaintiffs' prior motion, which is therefore terminated as moot.

Samoa News notes that ASPA is already a defendant in another but similar case by plaintiffs against ASG along with current and former officials.