By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
Pohnpei, FSM-In what may be the first filing at the FSM Supreme Court in the new year, lawyer Mary Berman and her husband Kadalino Damarlane sued the U Municipal Government and Ioannis Donre in both his personal and professional capacities as the U Municipality Chief Minister. Berman and Damarlane have asked the court for $10 million dollars in damages relating to problems at the "condemned" causeway that fronts their home in Awak, U.
Summonses were served on the defendants that gave them 20 days from receipt, exclusive of the date of summons before a default judgment could be rendered against them.
Berman has sent copies of The Kaselehlie Press communications that she has sent to officials at the Pohnpei Department of Public Safety, the Pohnpei State Attorney General, Pohnpei's Governor John Ehsa and other Pohnpei State government officials. The first of those emails complaining of six month old problems arrived in January of 2009. One of the emails said that the problem had been persistent since August of 2008.
In each of the emails Berman has complained about activities that took place on the "condemned" causeway and the lack of Pohnpei State law enforcement there but neither the State nor any of its officials were named in the Damarlane/Berman civil suit.
Then Berman sent a copy of a letter written to Ioannis Donre dated December 29 explaining why she was in the process of drafting the lawsuit. "After our discussion this morning on the telephone, I agreed that I will hold off filing this lawsuit to see if this problem can be managed by the U Municipal Government without litigation. If you will try for one week to manage the problem, and if this solves the problem finally and permanently, then the lawsuit can be put off." The letter said.
The civil suit was filed five days later.
The complaints are as follows:
- The plaintiffs and their family use the oceanfront and lagoon area in front of their home to walk, swim, fish, relax and sunbathe. The U Municipal Government issued a business license to individuals who invite the general public to use a condemned state government mining causeway in front of complainants' home in Awak, U. The business operators have no ownership interest in the condemned causeway, the oceanfront area or the lagoon.
- The U Municipal government hires police officers and fails to train them or alternatively gives them inadequate training. The business which U Municipal government has licensed allows alcohol to be consumed on the causeway site as part of the business, although the business does not have a State Alcoholic Beverage Consumption license. The drunk customers destroy plaintiffs' property and make noise which invades plaintiffs' home. U municipal government does nothing to control this when plaintiffs request assistance.
- The business operators built an illegal toilet on the causeway in front of the plaintiffs' home. Environmental protection law prohibits toilets located within 50 feet of any body of water. The causeway business's toilet is about 5-10 feet from the lagoon shore depending on the height of the tide at the time. As a result of the public's use of the toilet, the lagoon area in front of plaintiffs' home is severely polluted. The area generally smells of human urine and excrement. U municipal government does nothing to control this pollution when plaintiffs request assistance.
- The business's customers play loud radios day and night, disturbing the plaintiffs in their home. U municipal government does nothing to control this when plaintiffs request assistance.
- The business's customers sleep at the causeway overnight. The business does not have a hotel operator's license.
- The business does not dispose of its garbage in accordance with environmental laws. The business operators dump the business's garbage beside the lagoon in front of the plaintiffs' home, where the garbage is carried into the lagoon on the daily tides. Currently there is about fifty cubic meters or five truckloads of garbage lying on the condemned causeway next to and lying partly in the lagoon water. When plaintiffs swim in the lagoon, they swim among the floating garbage from the business's dump. The garbage is a source of odors and a haven for flies which invade plaintiffs' home. U municipality does nothing to control this pollution when plaintiffs request assistance.
- The business operators continually expand the ground area on which their business operates by destroying living coral which they take from the lagoon, piling it up as landfill. The business operators do not have any permit to destroy coral or to create landfill at the site. Their actions destroy the beauty of the natural environment in front of the plaintiffs' home. U municipal government does nothing to control this destruction when plaintiffs request assistance.
- U municipal government provides no supervision or policing of persons invited onto the site by the business operators. As a result, these customers make noise day and night with large loud radios, wander around the neighborhood screaming drunk, damage property of the plaintiffs, leave broken glass and other garbage on the causeway in front of the plaintiffs' home, excrete human waste into the causeway business toilet, and pollute the lagoon where plaintiffs live, all of which degrades the plaintiffs' living environment.
- This condition has continued since 2008. U municipal government does nothing to control the illegal activities when plaintiffs request assistance.
- Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Ioannis Donre, Chief Executive of U Municipality, permits the unlawful business because the business operators want to take the plaintiffs' residential land without compensation. Ioannis Donre's close relative, an attorney, sent plaintiffs a letter demanding that plaintiffs give their land to the business operators. Plaintiffs refused. The illegal business proceeded with U Municipal government's blessing.
- U municipal government also allows U municipal residents to maintain pigpens and garbage dumps in front of plaintiffs' home and to operate loud "boom-cars" on public roads in front of plaintiffs' home. As a result plaintiffs suffer odors and flies on their property, pollution in the lagoon water where plaintiffs swim, and loud noises. U municipal government has done nothing to control this.
It is extremely early in the life span of the filed lawsuit and no response had yet been received at press time.