INSURANCE COMPANY (PAGO PAGO) LTD., Plaintiff
STAR INTERNATIONAL, INC.
HONG KONG RESTAURANT, TUTUILA
INC., NTV ELECTRONICS, INC.,
AND HELEN YOUNG, AINOAMA FATA
NOFO’S STORE, AND DOES I-V, Defendants.
Court of American Samoa
 A motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim will be denied unless it appears beyond doubt
that no set of facts can be proven which would entitle a defendant in
interpleader to relief.
considering a 12(b)(6) motion, all material allegations in the complaint are
taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the defendant.
 The burden
of proving the absence of a claim rests on the movant.
In interpleader cases, the appropriate procedure for the court is to consider
the merits of the claims in the second stage of interpleader or at trial.
KRUSE, Chief Justice, and LOGOAI, Chief Associate Judge.
Counsel: For Plaintiff, Roy J.D.
For Defendants Southern Star International, Inc. dba Hong Kong
Restaurant, and Kenny and Helen Young, Paul F. Miller
For Defendant Ainoama Fata dba Nofo’s Store, Katopau T. Ainu`u
ON MOTION TO DISMISS DEFENDANT
FATA dba NOFO’S STORE
or about August 8, 2000, defendants Southern Star International, Inc. dba Hong
Kong Restaurant (“SSI”), and Kenny and Helen Young (the “Youngs”) filed a
motion to dismiss defendant Ainoama Fata dba Nofo’s Store (“Fata”). In the alternative, SSI and the Youngs ask
for summary judgment as to all claims made by Fata. The motion was set for hearing on October 27,
2000. However, the motion was not heard,
nor was it brought to the Court’s attention until counsel for SSI and the
Youngs raised it during a pre-trial conference hearing held on January 10,
2001, in preparation for this week’s trial.
A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim will be denied unless it
appears beyond doubt that no set of facts can be proven which would entitle a
defendant in interpleader to relief. See Moeisogi v. Faleafine, 5
A.S.R.2d 131, 134 (Land & Titles Div. 1987). In considering a 12(b)(6) motion, all
material allegations in the complaint are taken as true and construed in the
light most favorable to the defendant. NL
Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). The burden of
proving the absence of a claim rests on the movant. Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc.,
926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991).
SSI and the Youngs allege that Fata failed to assert a claim to the stake at
issue. Contrary to this allegation, in
her answer and cross-claim, which was filed March 30, 2000, Fata avers that
under the terms of a lease agreement, SSI and the Youngs agreed to indemnify
Fata for losses or injury to the leased property. The leased property is the same property
insured under the fire/material damage policy, No. 000600720 (“fire policy”),
which is the stake at issue in this case.
On April 7, 2000, subsequent to Fata’s filing of her answer and
cross-claim, we granted the first stage of interpleader joining as defendants
SSI, the Youngs, and Fata. In so doing, we explained that, as is the
appropriate procedure for interpleader cases, the merits of the claims are to
be considered in the second stage of interpleader or at trial.
and the Youngs equate Fata’s claim to the stake at issue with that of Tutuila
International, Inc., and NTV Electronics, which we dismissed from this action
on July 25, 2000. In contrast to Fata’s
claims, we found Tutuila International, Inc. and NTV Electronics’ basis for
relief was premised upon another insurance policy, a liability policy issued by
Progressive, No. 000600721 (“liability policy”) and not the fire policy, which
is the stake at issue in this case. Furthermore,
unlike Fata’s answer and cross-claim, Tutuila International, Inc. and NTV
Electronics did not file their answer until April 28, 2000, over four and a
half months after the complaint was filed.
considering Fata’s pleadings with the requisite liberality, and given her
asserted interest in the stake, which we construe as true and in the light most
favorable to her, we find that SSI and the Youngs have failed to show beyond a
doubt that Fata can prove no set of facts that would entitle her to the stake
at issue. Furthermore, in keeping with
our earlier order granting interpleader, we continue to find that the interest
of judicial efficiency and fairness mandate the simultaneous adjudication of
Fata’s claims in this case, the merits of which should await the second stage
of interpleader or trial. Based upon the
foregoing, SSI and the Youngs’ motion to dismiss is denied. The alternative application for summary
judgment is also denied.
It is so ordered.
 Rather than
wait until two weeks before trial, counsel for SSI and the Youngs should have
alerted the Court to the fact that their motion filed August 8, 2000 had yet to
be heard. Even if not heard on October
27, 2000, a subsequent hearing was had on November 3, 2000, at which time
counsel had ample opportunity to inform the Court of its filed motion.
the stakeholder, is also a party to this case.
Although the stakeholder is, in the usual case, discharged at the first
stage of interpleader, we did not discharge Progressive in this case since SSI
and the Youngs assert that Progressive has an obligation to pay greater than
the amount of the stake at issue.