Paleafei v. Leatisua,

Series: 4ASR | Year: 1964 | 4ASR496_1
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PALEAFEI of Laulii, Plaintiff


[Sic: Should be PELE FIA]






LEATISVA of Laulii, Defendant


[Land: “Amalu” in Laulii]


High Court of American Samoa


Civil Jurisdiction, Trial Division


No. 189-1964


November 2, 1964




            Action to enjoin defendant from destroying plantings on plaintiff’s communal land located in village of Laulii. Trial Division of the High Court, Chief Justice Morrow, dismissed case on grounds plaintiff failed to establish his right to land by preponderance of evidence.


              Petition denied.


1. Real Property-Quieting Title-Burden of Proof


Where plaintiff fails to prove right to land by preponderance of evidence, court will dismiss his petition even though defendant has also failed to prove his right of ownership.


2. Real Property-Boundaries-Settlement of


Boundary disputes where evidence of actual division is not available can best be settled by agreement, survey, and registration.




Heard at Fagatogo on November 2,1964 before MORROW, Chief Justice, LETULIGASENOA, Associate Judge, and Temporary Associate Judge MAILO.


Apelu, Counsel for Paleafei.


Pele Suiava, Counsel for Leatisua. [4ASR497]




MORROW, Chief Justice.


            Paleafei filed a petition seeking an injunction prohibiting Leatisua from destroying his plantations on land claimed by Paleafei to be the communal land of the Paleafei Family. Leatisua is a lesser matai in the Pele Family. He claims that the plantations are on communal land of the Pele Family and that any plants which he removed were planted on land of that family. The land involved is named Amalu in the Village of Laulii.


            Leatisua relied primarily upon a decision of the High Court (No.5-1904) in which the Court decreed that the central part of Amalu was the property of the Paleafei Family while the eastern and western parts (each adjoining the central part) were the property of the Pele Family. Amalu had not been surveyed and the respective boundaries of these three parts were not specified in the decree. This is not the first dispute between the Paleafei and the Pele Families as to the true boundary between the western part which is the property of the Pele Family and the central part which is the property of the Paleafei Family. Sometime after the decision in the High Court Case No.5-1904 was made, District Court Case No.1-1907 was decided. This case involved a dispute as to the true boundary line between the west part and the central part of Amalu. However, the true boundary line was not determined in that case, the substance of the decision being that the parties should keep the peace.


            Paleafei Endnote had a survey of what he claimed to be the western part of Amalu by a Mr. Yandall on August 30, 1906. A copy of the survey was introduced in evidence. The land as shown on the survey was never offered for registration. Leatisua relies in part upon the survey. However, [4ASR498] since the land shown on the survey was never registered, the most we can say is that Pele Fia claimed to own the surveyed part of Amalu (i.e. the western part).We cannot say from the evidence before us where the true boundary line is between the western part and the central part of Amalu.


            [1] As we view the evidence, plaintiff Paleafei did not establish by a preponderance of the evidence that his family is the owner of the part of Amalu in dispute. And, likewise, it cannot be said that the evidence preponderates in favor of the view that the disputed portion of Amalu is the Property of the Pele Family.


            Since we have concluded that plaintiff Paleafei has not proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the land in dispute is his property, we must dismiss his petition.


            [2] All of the judges join in the suggestion to the parties that one of them, after they make a sincere effort to agree upon a boundary line between them, have the western part of Amalu surveyed and offer it for registration.




            It is hereby ORDERED that the plaintiff Paleafei’s petition be and it is hereby dismissed.


            Costs in the sum of $12.50 are hereby assessed against Paleafei and a like sum against Leatisua, the same to be paid within two weeks.