CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION

Cite as Barker v. Chuuk , 16 FSM Intrm. 537 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2009)

[16 FSM Intrm 537]

NOPUKO BARKER, JUDITH NETHON,
NATCHU NETHON, and SIMIE KOOL,

Plaintiff,

vs.

CHUUK STATE and CHUUK PUBLIC
UTILITIES CORPORATION,

Defendant.

CSSC CA. 111-00

ORDER FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Keske S. Marar
Associate Justice

Decided: August 13, 2009

APPEARANCES:

For the Plaintiffs:        Salomon M. Saimon

                                   Law Offices of Saimon & Associates

                                   P.O. Box 1450

                                   Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941
 

For the Defendants:   Tony Rosokow

                                   Assistant Attorney General

                                   Office of the Chuuk Attorney General

                                   P.O. Box 189

                                   Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

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HEADNOTES

Civil Procedure – Summary Judgment – Grounds

    If a nonmoving party admits the allegations contained in a summary judgment motion and there is otherwise no factual issue in dispute, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment on the uncontested allegations. Barker v. Chuuk, 16 FSM Intrm. 537, 538 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2009).

Civil Procedure – Admissions; Civil Procedure – Summary Judgment – Procedure

    When a defendant did not provide responses to the plaintiffs' requests for admissions, the requests should be deemed admitted and admissions obtained through such a failure to respond to requests for admissions may be used as the factual basis for summary judgment. Barker v. Chuuk, 16 FSM Intrm. 537, 538-39 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2009).

[16 FSM Intrm 538]

Civil Procedure – Summary Judgment – Procedure

    Although an opposing party has consented to a motion, that motion may only be granted if it is well grounded in fact and law, so that when a defendant, in its written responses, admitted the allegations in the plaintiffs' requests for admissions, the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment against that defendant is well grounded in fact and law. Barker v. Chuuk, 16 FSM Intrm. 537, 539 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2009).

Civil Procedure – Summary Judgment – Procedure

    Although the defendants may be deemed to have admitted damages in a certain amount, when partial summary judgment is granted to the plaintiffs on the defendants' liability, the court may require an evidentiary hearing to determine an appropriate damages award. Barker v. Chuuk, 16 FSM Intrm. 537, 539 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2009).

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COURT'S OPINION

KESKE S. MARAR, Associate Justice:

BACKGROUND

    1. On May 17, 2000, plaintiffs Nopuko Barker, Judith Nethon, Natchu Nethon and Simie Kool filed their complaint against defendants Chuuk State and Chuuk Public Utilities Corporation for trespass, damage to property, breach of contract (Chuuk State only).

    2. Plaintiffs served discovery on both defendants. In its May 1, 2001 responses to plaintiffs' discovery, Chuuk State admitted all of the allegations against it, including damages in the amount of $188,000. Defendant CPUC did not respond to plaintiffs' discovery requests.

    3. On July 23, 2003, plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment wherein they argued that summary judgment could be entered against defendants on liability and damages in the amount of $188,000 based on defendants' admissions through discovery. The only remaining issue was punitive damages.

    4. On April 20, 2009, the court issued a scheduling order setting the deadline for filing responses to pre-trial motions on May 15, 2009. Neither defendant filed any motion or any response to plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.

ANALYSIS

    In their motion, plaintiffs asserted that partial summary judgment against defendant Chuuk State is proper because Chuuk State admitted all of the allegations against it. The court agrees. In its May 1, 2001 responses to plaintiff's requests for admissions, Chuuk State admitted all of the allegations against it. If a nonmoving party admits the allegations contained in a motion for summary judgment and there is otherwise no factual issue in dispute, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment on the uncontested allegations. FSM Dev. Bank v. Rodriguez Corp., 2 FSM Intrm. 128, 130 (Pon. 1985).

    Plaintiffs also argue that partial summary judgment against defendant CPUC is proper because CPUC failed to answer plaintiffs' discovery requests. Since CPUC did not provide responses to plaintiffs' requests for admissions, the requests should be deemed admitted and summary judgment

[16 FSM Intrm 539]

entered against CPUC. The court agrees. Admissions obtained through a failure to respond to requests for admissions may be used as the factual basis for summary judgment. Mailo v. Bae Fa Fishing Co., 7 FSM Intrm. 83, 85 (Chk. 1995). Although an opposing party consents to a motion, that motion may only be granted if it is well grounded in fact and law. Kyowa Shipping Co. v. Wade, 7 FSM Intrm. 93, 95 (Pon. 1995). In this case, CPUC, in its written responses, admitted the allegations in plaintiffs' requests for admissions. The court, therefore, finds that plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment against CPUC is well grounded in fact and law.

    The court also notes that neither defendant has otherwise complied with the court=s order setting the deadline for responses to plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. Where the opposing party has not filed a timely response to a motion for summary judgment, that party is deemed to have consented to the granting of the motion. Mailo, 7 FSM Intrm. at 85 n.1.

CONCLUSION

    Partial summary judgment is granted to plaintiffs on defendants' liability. Although the court notes that defendants may be deemed to have admitted damages in the amount of $188,000, the court will require an evidentiary hearing to determine an appropriate damages award. See Chk. Civ. R. 68 ; see also Rosokow v. Chuuk, 7 FSM Intrm. 507, 509-10 (Chk. S. Ct. App. 1996) (trial court has discretion to order on its own motion a hearing for the plaintiff to prove to the court by the applicable legal standard the amount of damages or other relief sought to be awarded by an offer of judgment).

    Therefore, within thirty (30) days of service of this order, the parties are to confer and provide to the court a written recommendation of possible hearing dates. Also within thirty (30) days, the parties shall provide the court with pre-trial statements on the issue of damages, advising the court on how long it will take to present their evidence on the issue of damages, a list of witnesses and of evidence, and any stipulations. Plaintiffs must, in their pre-trial statement, also provide a written summary of the legal and factual basis for their claim of punitive damages. Defendants may file a response on the issue of punitive damages within ten (10) days of service of plaintiffs' pre-trial statement.

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