Court dismisses Semes Panuelo claims against FSM President and government regarding “First Lady” designation

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


March 16, 2020

Palikir, Pohnpei—In a 29 page ruling, the FSM Supreme Court has dismissed the claims of Janet Semes Panuelo against the FSM Government, the FSM Public Information Office, the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs, the FSM Congress, President David Panuelo, and Patricia Edwin.

On December 3, 2019 Semes Panuelo filed a civil action containing several claims related to the use of the term “First Lady” as applied to Patricia Edwin and for the government’s treatment of Edwin as such.  She claimed to be still legally married to President Panuelo, a legal matter that is currently before the Pohnpei Supreme Court.

The court dismissed the claims against all of the government actors including the FSM Congress “with prejudice” which means that those same claims cannot be brought against them again in any court. It generally dismissed the claims against President Panuelo and Patricia Edwin “without prejudice” which means that Semes Panuelo’s claims against them are dismissed at the FSM Supreme Court but the same claims or others can be brought against them in another court.

The court thoroughly explained its ruling based on legal precedence and interpretation of existing law.  It concluded:

“Accordingly, the court dismisses the intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against every defendant because Janet Semes Panuelo’s factual allegations are insufficient for a court to grant any relief thereon. The court dismisses Janet Semes Panuelo’s claims against Congress with prejudice because they present a non-justiciable political question. The court dismisses all causes of action against the government defendants because they do not present claims for which the court can grant relief.  And the court dismisses the tortious interference with a marriage contract [alienation of affections, enticement (causing spouse to separate from other spouse), or criminal conversation], slander claims (and civil conspiracy, if it has survived with slander as the underlying tort) against Patricia Edwin (and David Panuelo) without prejudice to any future state court proceedings thereon.”

So ruling Associate Justice Larry Wentworth ruled the case to be closed.

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