Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Marisco, Ltd., A Hawaii Corporation v. American Samoa Government

November 28, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge


Before the Court is Garnishee Bank of Hawaii's ("BOH") Motion for Injunctive Relief ("Motion"), filed on October 18, 2012. [Dkt. no. 162.] On October 24, 2012, Plaintiff/ Counterclaim Defendant Marisco, Limited ("Marisco") filed its substantive joinder in the Motion ("Joinder"), and Defendant/ Counter Claimant/Third Party Plaintiff American Samoa Government ("ASG") filed its memorandum in opposition. [Dkt. nos. 169, 171.] These matters came on for hearing on October 26, 2012. Appearing on behalf of BOH was Robert Marks, Esq., appearing on behalf of Marisco was Mark Desmarais, Esq., and appearing on behalf of ASG was Mark Hamilton, Esq. After careful consideration of the Motion, the Joinder, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the arguments of counsel, BOH's Motion and Marisco's Joinder are HEREBY GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.


The relevant background is set forth in this Court's Order Granting Marisco Ltd.'s Ex Parte Request for Order Directing Disbursement of Funds from Garnishee Bank of Hawai`i and Granting in Part and Denying in Part Bank of Hawaii's Motion for Instructions, filed August 23, 2012 ("Disbursement Order"), 2012 WL 3686088, and this Court's Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Garnishee Bank of Hawaii's Motion for Interpleader, filed October 5, 2012 ("Interpleader Order"), 2012 WL 4764590,*fn1 both of which this Court incorporates by reference.

On October 22, 2012, pursuant to the Interpleader Order, BOH deposited the sum of $824,071.15 ("the Interpleader Funds") with this district court. [Amended Notice of Deposit of Interpleader Funds, filed 10/23/12 (dkt. no. 168).] The district court will maintain the Interpleader Funds in a non-interest bearing account.*fn2

I. Motion

In the instant Motion, BOH requests "equitable relief in the form of a restraining order or injunction against [ASG] and its attorneys from litigating claims against the interpleaded funds." [Mem. in Supp. of Motion at 3 (footnote omitted).] As noted in the Disbursement Order and the Interpleader Order, in American Samoa Government v. Bank of Hawaii, et al., Trial Division, HCCA No. 29-12 ("ASG v. BOH"), the High Court of American Samoa ("High Court") has already issued a preliminary injunction ordering BOH to restore the funds that BOH froze from ASG's account. ASG filed an Expedited Motion to Enforce Preliminary Injunction and for Sanctions Against Bank of Hawaii, which was set for hearing before the High Court on October 31, 2012.*fn3 BOH argues that, unless this Court grants the instant Motion and enjoins or restrains ASG from continuing to litigate ASG v. BOH, "a judgment, enforcement order or contempt citation might well issue in favor of ASG as to the interpleaded funds." [Id. at 4.] Thus, although BOH deposited the Interpleader Funds with this district court, in the absence of an injunction or a restraining order, it may be compelled to restore an equal amount to ASG's account pursuant to the High Court's order. According to BOH, that would effectively force BOH to pay the judgment entered in this case in favor of Marisco and against ASG. [Id. at 5.]

BOH first argues that it is entitled to an injunction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65 because its reputation and goodwill will suffer irreparable harm if the High Court enforces its preliminary injunction order. BOH notes that a daily newspaper in American Samoa has already published a number of articles about ASG v. BOH, and the articles are highly critical of BOH. BOH also argues that, even if BOH eventually obtained a judgment against ASG in ASG v. BOH, it is unlikely that ASG would ever pay the judgment. [Id. at 6-8.]

BOH also contends that it is entitled to an injunction under equitable principles. BOH notes that 28 U.S.C. § 2361 codified these equitable principles, but district courts possessed such equitable powers long before the enactment of § 2361.*fn4 BOH argues that an injunction is appropriate because BOH faces a significant uncertainty as to whom it must pay the Interpleader Funds to and it faces a significant risk of double liability. [Id. at 8-10.]

In the alternative, BOH asserts that this Court can also issue an injunction pursuant to: its "equitable powers by analogy to statutory interpleader standards[;]" the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651; and its "inherent power to preserve the integrity of the judicial process." [Id. at 10-11.] BOH notes that this Court stated in the Interpleader Order that there was no indication that ASG intended to institute other proceedings involving the Interpleader Funds, but BOH argues that this is irrelevant because of the proceedings in ASG v. BOH. BOH emphasizes that it is not asking this Court to restrain or enjoin the High Court; BOH argues that this Court should enjoin ASG from proceeding with ASG v. BOH to preserve the judicial process in the instant case, consistent with the Congressional intent of § 2361.*fn5 [Id. at 11.]

II. Marisco's Joinder

In its Joinder, Marisco argues that, in ASG's memorandum preceding the Disbursement Order, ASG raised its argument that this Court had no jurisdiction over bank accounts allegedly domiciled in American Samoa, and this Court rejected that argument. Although the Disbursement Order noted that ASG raised this argument, this Court concluded that ASG submitted itself to the jurisdiction of this district court and concluded that American Samoa law did not apply because the "separate entity rule" was inapplicable. [Joinder at 2-3.] Marisco therefore argues that this Court has already considered and rejected ASG's position and that this Court should grant the Motion because BOH is likely to succeed on the merits of the issue of the applicability of American Samoa law. [Id. at 4.]

III. ASG's Memorandum in Opposition

ASG first emphasizes that there is a national policy that federal courts should not stay or enjoin pending state court proceedings except under special circumstances. [Mem. in Opp. at 4 (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 37, 41 (1971)).] ASG argues that, pursuant to Younger and other United States Supreme Court case law, this Court should not interfere in the on-going ASG v. BOH, which ASG brought in its sovereign capacity. [Id. at 5-6.]

ASG notes that the Ninth Circuit considers the following factors when determining whether abstention is appropriate: whether the state proceedings are ongoing; whether the proceedings implicate important state interests; and whether there is an adequate opportunity to address federal questions in the state proceedings. ASG argues that all of these factors favor abstention. [Id. at 6 (some citations omitted) (citing Fresh International Corp. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., 805 F.3d 1353, 1357-58 (9th Cir. 1986)).]

ASG also notes that the policies articulated in Younger and other cases are also codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2283. ASG emphasizes that there is no Act of Congress expressly authorizing district courts to enjoin the High Court from enforcing American Samoa law, and the issues in ASG v. BOH are not issues that this Court has ruled upon in this action. ASG therefore argues that an injunction would not aid in this Court's jurisdiction, nor would it help to project or effectuate the judgment in this case. Thus, ASG contends that this Court does not have the authority under § 2283 to grant the instant Motion. Further, to the extent that there are any doubts about whether this Court has the authority to enjoin ASG v. BOH, United States Supreme Court case law requires this Court to resolve those doubts in favor of allowing ASG v. BOH to go forward. [Id. at 7.]

As to BOH's request for an injunction pursuant to Rule 65, ASG argues that the High Court has already ruled in its preliminary injunction order that BOH is not likely to succeed on the merits of ASG v. BOH, and the High Court also denied BOH's motion for reconsideration of the preliminary injunction order and BOH's motion to stay the injunction order. Further, ASG contends that, even apart from the High Court's rulings, an examination of the issues of American Samoa law in ASG v. BOH indicates that BOH is not likely to succeed on the merits. [Id. at 8-9.] ASG also argues that BOH's requested injunction is not in the public interest because the people of American Samoa have a fundamental interest in seeing American Samoa laws enforced, and the people of Hawai`i have little or no interest in the issues in ASG v. BOH. [Id. at 9-10.] Further, ASG asserts that BOH's claim of irreparable harm is speculative, which is insufficient for an injunction. BOH has offered no evidence that the enforcement of the preliminary injunction order in ASG v. BOH, a judgment in that case, or media coverage of that case, will have any effect on BOH's customers or potential customers. ASG emphasizes that it has no control over the media coverage regarding ASG v. BOH. [Id. at 11-12.]

As to BOH's request for an injunction pursuant to this Court's equitable powers, ASG notes that, before moving to deposit the Interpleader Funds, BOH was aware of the conflicting orders by this Court and the High Court. ASG also states that BOH was aware that Marisco was not going seek enforcement under the circumstances. ASG argues that BOH could have complied with the High Court's preliminary injunction order, but BOH decided to move for interpleader in this district court. Thus, ASG argues that "BOH created the situation it now faces" and therefore BOH is not entitled to equitable relief because BOH has unclean hands. [Id. at 14.] ASG also asserts that BOH has unclean hands because BOH has ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.