Samoa Breweries, S.S.A.B. lawsuit struck out

A lawsuit against Samoa Stationery and Books [S.S.A.B.] and Samoa Breweries over Tuloto land in Togafu’afu’a has been struck out by the Supreme Court. 

The proceedings, which have been on the court’s files for close to 20 years, are in relation to a disputed parcel of land on which the S.S.A.B. Headquarters in Togafu’afu’a is located. 

An elderly mother, the late Kirita Maria Pune filed a $10 million suit in 2002 alleging illegal and fraudulent transfer of the land in question by her late brother. 

Mrs. Pune initially filed a claim against the S.S.A.B, lawyer Ruby Drake, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, former Attorney General Aumua Ming Leung Wai, and Samoa Breweries. 

Her daughter Clara Aitelea Gray continued the legal battle as the administrator of Mrs. Pune’s estate when she passed away. 

The claim against Aumua, who was made a party to the proceedings, in his capacity as the Attorney General at the time was struck out. 

An amended statement against the Breweries alleges the defendant was put on notice by Ms. Drake of the plaintiff’s caveat and interest in the Tuloto land. 

The plaintiff claimed she suffered general damages of $5 million and exemplary damages of $5 million.  

As for the cause of action against S.S.A.B., Ms. Gray alleged the defendant did not act with genuine intent “when it purchased the Tuloto land” causing damages of $5 million to the plaintiff. 

In his decision, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson said the action against the Breweries mortgagee as pleaded cannot succeed. 

“They were not a bona fide purchaser for value, there has been no foundation laid for the damages and relief sought and the allegations of fraud/impropriety have been inadequately addressed,” he said. 

“In relation to the fourth defendant [S.S.A.B.] similar concerns prevail. 

“Furthermore, the equitable doctrine of bona fide purchasers for value without notice cannot be used as a basis for actionable relief.”

Justice Vui said there is no prospect the action as pleaded can be in any manner sustained. 

“This cannot be altered by allowing the plaintiffs to replead their case,” he added. 

“The problem is not only one of underlying inference but a reliance on inapplicable facts.”

Justice Vui ordered that the actions in so far as they relate to the Breweries and S.S.A.B. are struck out. 

He also ordered that the two defendants are entitled to costs. 

Lawyer Charlie Vaai represented Samoa Breweries while Fiona Ey acted for S.S.A.B.

Prior to the strike out motion, the Supreme Court annulled a caveat order on the Tuloto land at Togafu’afu’a in a separate proceeding. 

In that matter, Justice Vui declared the caveat order by former Chief Justice Patu Falefatu Sapolu void and a breach of natural justice under the Constitution. 

The late Ms. Pune in her lawsuit alleges that she shares the estate and beneficiary of her father,  Vaeluaga Leilua’s land referred to as Tuloto.

The land was subject to a registered first mortgage in favour of the Samoa Breweries and had been gifted by their father to Mrs. Pune’s brother, Molio’o Teofilo Vaeluaga, in 1995. 

Several years later, Mrs. Pune commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court to set aside the gift on the basis of fraud perpetrated by Molio’o on their allegedly senile father.

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