| Code: 115655 |

TIN news:   Even if the federal court is 100 percent convinced that Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto is a joint venturer in cargo ship M/V Luta and is no “stranger” to the vessel, its sale should still go ahead as there are now two other parties who have joined the motion to have it sold.
Yamamoto, through George Lloyd Hasselback, also said that determining if he is a joint venturer with M/V Luta’s owner is premature at this point.
Two other parties—the former crew of M/V Luta and Long Consulting LLC—have joined in Yamamoto’s motion to have the vessel sold.
The opposition (Luta Mermaid LLC and its president Abelina T. Mendiola and others), however, does not mention this joinder, nor does it provide any argument as to why the court should ignore the joinder of these parties, Hasselback said.
“Given that two other parties have joined this motion, even if the opposition were eventually proven right and Yamamoto’s lien declared invalid, the sale should proceed,” the lawyer asserted.
Given that Abelina Mendiola’s allegations contradicts some of the facts alleged in Yamamoto’s complaint, Hasselback said it is a foregone conclusion that “disputed questions of fact” exist regarding Yamamoto’s role in the business of running the M/V Luta.
It goes without question that some defendants will claim that Yamamoto was a joint venturer and, likewise, he has already claimed that he was an investor entitled to a maritime lien, Hasselback said.
Hasselback said the determination of “who is telling the truth” should not be decided in the context of selling the vessel.
The owners and operators of Luta Mermaid LLC, which owns M/V Luta, oppose Yamamoto’s request for the court to order for the sale of the vessel.
Luta Mermaid LLC, M/V Luta, Luta Mermaid LLC president Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, and Fidel S. Mendiola III, through counsel William M. Fitzgerald, asserted that the court should deny Yamamoto’s motion.
Fitzgerald said if Abelina Mendiola’s affidavit is contested, then the court must hold an evidentiary hearing because there will be a question of fact.
Fitzgerald said the most significant issue for the court to decide is whether Yamamoto is a joint venture owner of M/V Luta, or is he a stranger to the vessel who simply provided money to buy it and its necessities.
“By stranger to the vessel is meant an independent vendor who supplied something that the vessel needed,” the lawyer said.
Yamamoto is suing Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog and the owners/operators of Luta Mermaid LLC for allegedly refusing to pay back the $3.4 million that he put up for the vessel.
After Yamamoto filed the lawsuit last Oct. 25, the U.S. Marshal Service arrested or seized the ship.
Yamamoto recently asked the court to order the sale of M/V Luta to avoid its deterioration and excessive cost of keeping the vessel while his lawsuit is pending in court.
In her declaration attached to their opposition, Abelina Mendiola, 53, said it was Yamamoto’s idea to go into shipping on Rota, which was developed out of his interest to acquire Sunset Villa on Rota, owned by her sons.
Abelina Mendiola said after Yamamoto started to discuss with her husband, Fidel S. Mendiola Jr., about doing business on Rota, his idea which they agreed to was that he finances the businesses and they provide time and services in management, operation, and logistics.

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