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American Samoa Establishes Maritime Precedent Disallowing the Inclusion of Attorney’s Fees as ...

American Samoa Maritime Law Precedent

​On August 17, 2016, WH Fisheries filed a complaint against Vasco Enterprises Inc. , the owner of the F/V Carol Linda, a 274-foot fishing vessel located in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The Complaint sought foreclosure of WH Fisheries’ mortgage on the F/V Carol Linda, and the High Court of American Samoa issued a warrant for the arrest of the vessel on the same day. Thereafter, the United States of America, through local American Samoan counsel at RDA Law Firm, filed a Complaint-in-Intervention for foreclosure of the First Preferred Ship Mortgage on the vessel. There were numerous other creditors and claimants seeking recovery when the F/V Carol Linda was to be auctioned off in February 2016. Since marine surveys and reasonable estimates had placed the value of the F/V Carol Linda between $7 Million and $9 Million, there were reasonable expectations that the sale of the vessel would allow many, if […]

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Trading Pine Trees for Palm Trees: Practicing Law in U.S. Territories

Practicing Law in U.S. Territories Palm Trees American Samoa

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, an attorney recruiting me to work for his firm made the most outlandish pitch I had ever heard.He promised me a job where I would leave work every day at 4:00 p.m., and never work a weekend or holiday. In my off-time, I would drink from coconuts on world-class beaches, camp on one of the most remote islands in the United States, or fish in waters abundant with tuna and wahoo. I would wear shorts and flip-flops to work—even during court appearances. And, perhaps most importantly, he promised me an above-average salary for an attorney with my experience, and plenty of paid time off.The only catch was that I would have to leave Arkansas behind, and spend two years in American Samoa. As you can imagine, I was skeptical of this too-good-to-be-true proposition. But my wife and I decided that if the job was even half […]

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A Guide to Basic Estate Planning

Estate Planning Guide

Estate planning can be compared to the creation of a personal legal “suitcase” in which all types of property ownership can be placed including personal belongings, assets, business holdings, financial resources and real estate. The person creating the “suitcase” or Trust is referred to as the Grantor or Settlor and initial Trustee. During the Grantor’s lifetime, the Grantor is in control over all of the assets placed into the Trust or “suitcase” and can take assets out and change the features of the Trust however they want. Because the Grantor has total control over the Trust, the Trust is referred to as Revocable or is frequently named a Revocable Living Trust “RLT”. There are no separate tax returns filed by the Trust and no separate identification numbers required as the RLT is considered the same as the Grantor. The big advantage of the RLT is that the Grantor has already […]

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Before You Sue, Consider Mediation

Mediation Alternative

Have you ever reached a point in your dispute with a contractor or another professional or a family member when you have said: “I’ve had it. I need a good lawyer. I’m going to sue!” As a lawyer with over 40 years in practice, let me offer a word of advice: Wait. Take a deep breath. Before you sue, consider mediation. Before you sue — which, in effect, means turning yourself over to a lawyer who will then direct and control all your communications — take stock of the power you yourself have to determine the outcome of your dispute. Mediation is the key to using that power wisely to reach a resolution that would in all probability elude you in our legal system as it is today. The data tells us that this is so. Fewer than 5 percent of the millions of cases filed annually nationwide ever see […]

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Win, Lose … or Mediate

Mediation

America’s legal system is not good for society. It makes enemies out of friends and it exacerbates strife, hostility and ill-will. Win or lose. Those are the two options offered to us in America’s adversarial system of justice. It is estimated that about 60,000 disputes are filed every week nationally, but few, very few, ever get resolved through the courts the way the original parties had dreamed or hoped they would be. Relationship disputes — the largest category of cases that are causing gridlock in our courts — are especially ill-served by our binary (win/lose) system of justice. All of us, at some point or another in our lives, experience disputes in our personal or professional relationships. They arise between a husband and wife, a merchant and customer, a landlord and tenant, an employer and employee, a professional service-provider and her client, and in the course of many other workplace […]

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Teaming for Success

Partnering

Using Partnering Principles to Support Collaboration and Communication in Government, Non-Profit, Business and Community Groups Partnering is a process that was originally developed and used in the construction industry to redesign the relationship of all stakeholder parties so that project-related problems were resolved in a cooperative manner before they escalated into conflicts, disputes and lawsuits that would have delayed the project and added costs. As a proven conflict prevention approach, the principles of Partnering can be applied to any project or group working together. The Partnering process stresses the importance of developing positive relationships, honest communication and moving beyond differences to achieve a common vision and goals. It addresses miscommunication, misunderstanding and personality clashes that can impact productivity, delay timelines and affect success. It focuses groups on prioritizing action steps, to efficiently implement a plan and achieve the targeted goals. It strengthens collaboration, communication and mutual respect. Read the full article.

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