Norleen Oliver DeOrio asks for $100k in damages for government actions on public project on her property

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


October 8, 2020

FSM—Norleen Oliver DeOrio has filed a civil action (CA 2020-018) against the FSM Government, the FSM Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Joses Gallen in both his personal and official capacities, and against FSM National Police Officers Raynard Johnna and Jason Joseph, also in the personal official capacities.  The civil action requests punitive damages against each of the defendants in the amount of $100,000, general damages in an amount to be determined at trial, declaratory judgment, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

The civil action stems from FSM plans for a Sokehs Road Project that would pave a road through DeOrio’s property and terminating at the FSM First Lady’s family home. It also stems from the events that occurred on September 18 when DeOrio parked her car on the road on her property allegedly blocking it and FSM Police Officers confiscated the vehicle. The civil action lists 10 separate causes of action against some or all of the defendants.

The first cause of action is against all of the defendants.  It alleges that when Joses Gallen ordered the confiscation of DeOrio’s vehicle it was a violation of her constitutionally provided right of due process. Since the Secretary of DOJ is a representative of the FSM Government, the filing claims that the FSM Government is responsible for their actions.  “Further,” it claims, “the actions of each defendant as alleged were so malicious, opprobrious, wanton and willful and done with intent to humiliate, degrade, injure and harm plaintiff that plaintiff seeks an award of exemplary damages to punish these defendants for their outrageous

actions, against each defendant, in the amount of $100,000.00.”

The second cause of action is also against all defendants and makes similar arguments to the first cause of action but is applied to the fact that the named National Police Officers confiscated DeOrio’s vehicle without an arrest warrant.

The third cause of action is for “trespass” and is solely against the FSM Government.  It claims that the FSM’s project to pave the road “thereby expanding the width and ultimately encroaching onto the Plaintiff's property without permission is unlawful entry.”  In the fourth cause of action which is also for “trespass” is against the police officers, DeOrio claims that the police officers entered her vehicle without permission and without a warrant.

The fifth cause of action is “deprivation of property” and is against all of the defendants.  “The Plaintiff has the right to be secure on her property,” the civil action claims, “but the Defendants stripped her of that right in an unfair arbitrary manner by impounding her vehicle without a court warrant.”

Secretary Gallen’s alleged actions are the subject of the sixth cause of action.  It claims that Secretary Gallen abused his authority by instructing the seizure of a vehicle without jurisdiction.  It claims that he used his office to “trump up charges to threaten and intimidate the Plaintiff so that she can concede and allow the road pavement project to proceed.”  The claim expressed DeOrio’s belief that either the President or his wife instructed Gallen to “intimidate” DeOrio because of the government project to pave a private road to the Edwin’s family home.

The seventh cause of action is against all of the defendants and alleges that the road project itself along with the actions so far taken are a violation of DeOrio’s civil right to her property and to “only be stripped of that right pursuant to due process of law…”  It claims that the government is in violation of DeOrio’s civil rights if the government takes away portions of her property without just compensation or due process. It claims that DeOrio’s civil right to her health is violated if the government contaminates and/or dislocates her water well without due process.  It also claims that DeOrio “is being denied her property rights because she is a woman, and is being treated differently than previous landowners where government and all parties had consultation and agreed.”

The eighth cause of action against the FSM government claims that “the use of government funds to pay for the pavement of an entirely private road is tantamount to embezzlement of government funds.”

The ninth cause of action against all defendants speaks to an FSM National Government lack of jurisdiction. It claims that the FSM government has no authority to impound a vehicle in Pohnpei because the authority to regulate motorist on Pohnpei roads rests with the Pohnpei State Government and not the FSM National Government.

The last cause of action is also against all of the defendants and claims that taking DeOrio’s car to the National Government impound lot “exposed the Plaintiff to unbearable shame and humiliation because that action itself projected that the Plaintiff has committed a crime, since almost everyone who works in Palikir knows that the car belongs to Plaintiff Norleen Oliver.”

The civil action was accompanied by the Project Control Documents for the Sokehs Road Paving Project.  It also includes a copy of the May 28 letter DeOrio wrote to President Panuelo.  Her letter asked the President to stop the project “until such time that my family is consulted.”  The letter claimed that had never been done.  Her possession of the letter led to criminal charges against her husband, Mark DeOrio, an Assistant Secretary at the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications, and Infrastructure (see article on front page)  for his allegedly providing the letter to his wife.  On it was a hand written note purportedly by President Panuelo directed toward Secretary Gallen which said, “We will proceed with project, as land belonging to Trish/First Lady is landlocked.”

Moments before press time, the govern-ment’s 33 page response to the civil action arrived and will be covered separately.

(Editor’s note: We erroneously published in the previous issue that Edwin’s attorney had said there was no contract for the land. It was in fact, Oliver’s attorney who made that claim.)

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