5ASR3d101

Series: 5ASR3d | Year: () | 5ASR3d101
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AV BINGO SUPPLIES, Plaintiff,

 

v.

 

PACIFIC RIM ENTERPRISES, and

SILA POASA, Defendant.

 

High

Court of American Samoa

Trial

Division

 

CA

No. 47-00

 

June

11, 2001

 


 

[1] In American

Samoa, the court must scrutinize the evidence before a default judgment may be

entered, even in the case where the amount sought in the complaint is fully

liquidated.

 

[2] In motions

for default judgment the court looks to direct evidence to determine whether

the claimed indebtedness has been correctly calculated.

 

[3] The rate of

pre-judgment interest which the law presumes, in the absence of a written

stipulation by the debtor to a different permissible rate, is 6%.

 

[4] Any claim

for pre-judgment interest beyond the statutorily-mandated 6% rate is usurious and

unenforceable.

 

[5] Where plaintiff’s sought

default judgment against individual, but evidence presented was unclear as to

how such person was liable for supplies to shipped to separate business entity,

court would not enter default judgment.

 

Before KRUSE, Chief Justice, ATIULAGI, Associate Judge, and

SAGAPOLUTELE, Associate Judge.

 

Counsel: For Plaintiff, David P. Vargas

             For Sila Poasa, Pro se

 

ORDER ON MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

 

This matter came on regularly for

hearing upon plaintiff’s motion for default judgment.  Plaintiff appeared through counsel David P.

Vargas and defendant Sila Poasa appeared pro se.  The Clerk’s file shows

that defendants have been regularly served with process but have failed to

answer plaintiff’s complaint within the time allowed by law.  Pursuant to T.C.R.C.P. Rule 55(a), the Clerk

entered defendants’ default on May 1, 2000, and notice of these proceedings was

served upon defendants on December 4, 2000, pursuant to Rule 55(b).

 

[1-2] In this

jurisdiction, the court must scrutinize the evidence itself before a default

judgment may be entered, even in the case where the amount sought in the

complaint is fully liquidated.  Bank

of Hawaii v. Ieremia, 8 A.S.R.2d 177, 178 (Trial Div. 1988); Scalise

v. Gorniak, 26 AS.R.2d 85, 86 (Trial Div. 1994).  In 1986, with the amendment of T.C.R.C.P.

Rule 55, the practice by which default judgments could simply be entered by the

Clerk’s office, bypassing any sort of judicial assessment, was discontinued.  In these matters, therefore, the court looks

to direct evidence, beyond conclusionary affidavits such as bank ledgers and

the like, to determine for itself whether the claimed indebtedness has been

correctly calculated.  Id.

 

On the record before us, plaintiff AV

Bingo Supplies has supplied invoices and statements as supporting exhibits of

its claim against defendants.  These

exhibits reveal that between August 1994 and July 1995, plaintiff supplied and

shipped the defendant Pacific Rim Enterprises assorted paraphernalia for

running bingo games, with invoice cost totaling $62,476.25.  These exhibits, however, tell us nothing of

payment history nor how the complaint amount of principal debt, $45,629.25, was

arrived at.

 

At the hearing of plaintiff’s motion for default

judgment, defendant Sila Poasa appeared pro se and testified.  While not contesting the indebtedness, Poasa

testified that since the filing of the complaint, payments had been made to

plaintiff totaling $2,000.  Plaintiff’s counsel

acknowledged such payments and accordingly submitted his client’s claim in the

principal amount $43,629.25.  Plaintiff

will accordingly have judgment against the defendant Pacific Rim Enterprises in

the sum of $43,629.25.

 

[3-4] Plaintiff further claims accrued interest on the

indebtedness in the sum of $13,735.90. 

The interest statement before us is conclusionary in form, as the

supporting exhibits neither explain the basis for rate of interest claimed nor

manner of calculation.  We accept that

the debt is overdue but the rate of interest which the law presumes, in the

absence of a written stipulation by the debtor to a different permissible rate,

is 6%. See A.S.C.A. §28.1501(a). 

Any interest claim beyond that is usurious and unenforceable.  Id.

 

Since it is unclear how

plaintiff’s interest claim was arrived at, plaintiff will supply the details of

its calculation.

 

[5] As to plaintiff’s prayer for default judgment against

defendant Sila Poasa, this claim will be denied.  It is not clear from the exhibits received

why Sila Poasa is liable on the invoices. 

The bingo supplies were shipped and invoiced to Pacific Rim Enterprises,

a separate entity.  (See Complaint ¶ 2.)

 

Plaintiff shall calculate

judgment accordingly and provide such calculation within 10 days hereof.

 

It is so ordered.