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N.U.S. hit with $380,000 lawsuit

The National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) has been hit with a $379,000 lawsuit by its former Deputy Vice Chancellor, who is seeking compensation for “undue stress” and “humiliation”. 

The civil suit against the university was initiated by the former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Corporate Services), Maugaoalii Faamanu Mualia.

Maugaoalii had her position dissolved last year following an Ombudsman’s investigation into the university. 

Maugaoalii’s suit includes a $179,000 claim for the remainder of her contract of employment. 

The matter will appear in Court again in March for the defence to file a response. 

The statement of claim alleges the N.U.S. Council met in August 2019, when it was decided that Mauga’s position was to be dissolved. 

The N.U.S. Council stated the abolishing of the second Deputy Vice Chancellor’s role was the reason for Mauga’s position being made redundant. 

“The plaintiff therefore expected that after 2 August 2019 there will no longer be a position of Deputy V.C. (Corporate Services) within the N.U.S.,” the statement says. 

The statement further argues that despite the defendant telling Mauga that the position was dissolved on August 2 2019, the university continued to have staff act in the role of Deputy V.C. (Corporate Services) after that date. 

She pointed out the appointment of an Acting Deputy V.C. was proof that the position had not been abolished at all. 

“Therefore the disestablishment of the plaintiff’s position for reason of being redundancy is disingenuous and therefore not genuine,” the statement says. 

“As such, the plaintiff has suffered loss and damages for undue distress, anxiety, humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.” 

A Cabinet Directive dated April 24, 2019 ordered an independent investigation to be conducted into the N.U.S. 

That led to Mauga and another Deputy V.C. (Academic and Research), Peseta Desmond Lee Hang, being placed on special leave with pay pending the investigation. 

The investigation concluded on May 24 2019. But Mauga’s special leave was extended for another two months so that N.U.S. could review its operations, the statement of claim says. 

The Ombudsman’s report revealed how a grade-tampering investigation disguised as “academic research” caused conflict within the university’s management. 

That eventually led to the resignation of the university’s former Vice Chancellor, Professor Fui Asofou So’o. 

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