KOSRAE STATE COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Lonno v. Talley
12 FSM Intrm. 484 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2004)

[12 FSM Intrm. 484]

MCCALL M. LONNO,
Plaintiff,
 
vs.
 
JOE A. TALLEY,
Defendant.
 
CIVIL ACTION NO. 66-02
 
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION; JUDGMENT
 
Yosiwo P. George
Chief Justice
 
Trial: April 6, 2004
Decided: June 1, 2004

APPEARANCE:

For the Plaintiff:                       Lyndon L. Cornelius
                                                 Micronesian Legal Services Corporation
                                                 P.O. Box 38
                                                 Lelu, Kosrae FM 96944

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[12 FSM Intrm. 485]

HEADNOTES

Contracts
     When the parties entered into an oral agreement, which was later reduced to writing, whereby the plaintiff leased his property to the defendant for a monthly rent and for repairs to be completed by defendant, it is an enforceable contract. Lonno v. Talley, 12 FSM Intrm. 484, 486 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2004).
 
Contracts
     When a contract was later modified verbally by the parties to require a monthly rental payment of $150 for the first year of the agreement, in addition to the agreed upon repairs to be completed by the defendant, this verbal modification of the lease agreement is enforceable. Lonno v. Talley, 12 FSM Intrm. 484, 486 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2004).
 
Contracts ) Damages
     Since a plaintiff is entitled to recover the difference between the contract amount and the amount that the defendant has already paid, the plaintiff is entitled to recover the $100 per month difference between the contract monthly rental amount of $250 and the monthly $150 payment made and the plaintiff is also entitled to recover the amount necessary to complete the repairs to the ceiling and the floor that the defendant had agreed to do. Lonno v. Talley, 12 FSM Intrm. 484, 486 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2004).

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COURT’S OPINION

YOSIWO P. GEORGE, Chief Justice:

     This matter was called for trial on April 6, 2004. Plaintiff appeared with his counsel, Lyndon L. Cornelius, MLSC. Defendant did not appear. Defendant had been properly served with the notice of trial, the Order Setting New Trial Date, pursuant to KRCP Rule 5(b). Defendant was served by mailing the Order to his last known address at P.O. Box 538, Majuro, RMI 96960. Defendant was also served with the Order by leaving it with the Clerk of Court of the High Court of the Republic of the Marshall Islands by mailing it to P.O. Box 378, Majuro, RMI 96960. McCall Lonno and his wife, Lucy Lonno, testified at the trial. Plaintiff filed his closing arguments in writing on April 27, 2004.

     Based upon the evidence presented at the trial, arguments of counsel and the application of law, I find in favor of the Plaintiff and against the Defendant. This Memorandum of Decision explains my reasoning.

I. Finding

     Based upon the evidence presented at trial, I make these findings. The Plaintiff is the fee simple owner of parcel 009-M-41, also called Sanwo in Malem Municipality. The Plaintiff owns a two story building located on Sanwo. The Plaintiff and Defendant entered into an agreement whereby the Defendant agreed to rent the second floor of the Plaintiff’s building for his residence. The Defendant’s tenancy in the building began on May 1, 2000. The Plaintiff and Defendant executed a written lease agreement on July 5, 2000. The agreement provided that the Defendant would pay $150 per month for the first 5 months and $250 per month thereafter. In consideration of the reduced rent for the first 5 months, the Defendant also agreed to complete renovation to the ceiling and install new tiles on the floor. The written lease agreement was later amended verbally by the parties to allow extension of the

[12 FSM Intrm. 486]

reduced rental rate of $150 per month for the entire first year: May 2000 through April 2001. The amended lease agreement provided that the regular rent amount of $250 per month would begin in May 2001.

     The Defendant occupied the Plaintiff’s premises from May 2000 through June 2002. In June 2002, Defendant vacated the premises without notice, Defendant departed Kosrae State and moved to the Marshall Islands. The Defendant paid the amount of $150 per month from May 2000 until his departure in June 2002. Defendant completed one-half of the tile repair to the floor and two-thirds of the ceiling repair. The cost to complete the tile repair to the floor and the ceiling repair is $498.00. Defendant, when he vacated the premises, left several items behind: air conditioner, water pump, table and curtains. These abandoned items are now being used by the Plaintiff.

     Plaintiff claims repair costs of $498.00 and the remaining amount of rent due from May 2001 through June 2002. Plaintiff claims $100 per month in unpaid rent amount ($250 - $150) for a total rental claim of $1,300.00. Plaintiff’s total claim against the Defendant, for back rent and repairs is $1,798.00.

II. Analysis.

     The parties entered into an oral agreement, which was later reduced to writing, whereby the Plaintiff leased his property to the Defendant for a monthly rent and for repairs to be completed by Defendant. This is an enforceable contract. Tulensru v. Utwe, 9 FSM Intrm. 95 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1999). The contract was later modified verbally by the parties to require a monthly rental payment of $150.00 for the first year of the agreement, in addition to the agreed upon repairs to be completed by the Defendant. This verbal modification of the lease agreement is enforceable. Malem v. Kosrae, 9 FSM Intrm. 233 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1999).

     Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Defendant was liable for payment of $150 per month from May 2000 through April 2001, and $250 per month from May 2001 and thereafter. Defendant was also liable for completing repairs to the ceiling and replacing the floor tiles in the premises. Defendant paid the amount of $150 per month from May 2000 through June 2002. Defendant did not pay the amount of $250 per month from May 2001 as required by the lease agreement. Defendant did not complete the repairs to the ceiling and floor as required by the lease agreement. When one party fails to perform their promise, there is a breach of contract. Malem v. Kosrae, 9 FSM Intrm. 233 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1999). Defendant has breached the contract with the Plaintiff by failing to pay the $250.00 monthly rental amount from May 2001 and thereafter, and by failing to complete the repairs to the ceiling and floor.

     The Plaintiff is entitled to recover the difference between the contract amount and the amount that the Defendant has already paid. Id. Plaintiff is entitled to recover $100 per month for 13 months, which is the difference of the contract monthly rental amount of $250 and the monthly $150 payment made by the Defendant from May 2001 through June 2002. Plaintiff is entitled to recover the amount of $1,300.00 for unpaid rent from the Defendant. Plaintiff is also entitled to recover the amount necessary to complete the repairs to the ceiling and the floor, in the amount of $498.00. Defendant is liable to the Plaintiff in the total amount of $1,798.00. Judgment shall be entered accordingly.

     The items left behind by the Defendant when he vacated the premises have been abandoned by the Defendant and may be utilized or disposed of by the Plaintiff.

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