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US District Court Dismisses Hueter’s lawsuit against ASG

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

By: Tosimaeʻa Tupua

The US District Court for the District of DC, has dismissed Hueter’s lawsuit over the weekend. In a order and memo released in the weekend DC U.S. District Court Judge, Hon Trevor McFadden dismissed Huerter's lawsuit against ASG leaders and officials from the executive current and last administration, Covid Task Force members, Legislative and Judiciary branches of government regarding his claims against COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

A federal district court judge in Hawaii also dismissed two lawsuits regarding environmental issues that Huerter filed in Hawaii, against ASG leaders, officials, ASEPA and ASDMWR. Steven Hueter sued the Government of American Samoa (the Government) and over 70 of its officials for various actions taken by the Government. He also sued the Secretary of the Interior, but the Court granted her motion to dismiss. Hueter's claims fall into four general buckets. He first alleges that the Government's early policies to stop the spread of COVID-19, including a prohibition on public gatherings, violated several of his rights, including his right to exercise his religion. He also alleges that those restrictions violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Equal Protection Clause. Next, he claims that members of the Fono—the American Samoan legislature— improperly used COVID relief funds.

According to Hueter, the misuse of funds constituted a conspiracy to violate his equal protection rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). Third, he challenged the decision to allow a fishing vessel to dock on the island without first passing through COVID protocols. Hueter says that this decision also was a conspiracy intended to violate his rights. Lastly, Hueter alleges violations of his rights by Chief Justice Kruse and Associate Justice Sunia during his lawsuits before the High Court of American Samoa. For relief, Hueter requests millions in damages, an injunction against the docking of the fishing vessel, and other injunctive relief. Huerter has not been successful in his lawsuits against ASG, its leaders and officials in the High Court of American Samoa and in the federal courts in Hawaii and DC. Unfortunately, those lawsuits are costing our government hundreds of thousands in legal fees.

Despite Huerter's federal lawsuits, Governor Lemanu, Lt. Governor Talauega, COVID-19 Task Force members, and ASG departments and agencies have kept their focus in protecting American Samoa during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Judiciary and Fono have continued to perform their respective functions.

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