Today in the Samoa District Court I received details of Samoa Observer’s defence and counter-claim to my court case where I sued them for $3,500.00. In their documents reproduced in full here, Samoa Observer denies ALL my claims and in turn is suing me for $2,000,000.00 – defamation, oh, and don’t forget $40,000.00 legal expenses! In this post I analyse their defence and counter-claim showing that my original post was dead on the nail . . . the owner of this local rag Savea Sano Malifa not only lacks humility and, integrity but now it seems, common sense. My first claim of foolishness on his part was an understatement. Enjoy as the truth comes out . . .
Samoa Observer is Samoa’s ‘local rag’ – a privately owned company operating as a tabloid-come-self-appointed-moral-watchdog.
In 2012 I arranged with the owner and Editor-in-Chief Savea Sano Malifa to write weekly articles in return for advertisements (for our limousine). Putting it simply, I delivered; they didn’t. I tried the gently, gently approach to fix the matter but to no avail -Sano basicaly just said, “F*ck off”. So after a year or so I sued his company for what was due plus very conservative consequential loss. The sum total I sued for was for $3,500.00 plus $20.00 court costs.
Samoa Observer’s lawyer, Rosella Viane Papalii, adjourned the first hearing seeking more detailed Statement of Claim. She and the Observer actually had thirty pages by way of my very detailed Affidavit but this delaying tactic worked as the judge adjourned for a week.
On the second hearing she sought a further two weeks delay to “get instructions from her client” to prepare a defence and counter-claim. She was awarded this adjournment too.
On the third hearing she never appeared and the judge asked me to wait while the court tried to get hold of her, remind her or to find out why she wasn’t there. After waiting to the end of the session and she still hadn’t appeared the judge scratched his head, shrugged his shoulders and adjourned for another week.
On the fourth hearing she did appear and apologised, saying that she forgot and then she sought a further week again, “to get instructions from her client”. A real cock-and-bull story if you ask me because even if she had forgotten on the day (her spurious claim) you don’t “forget” to get instructions from your client for two whole weeks and THEN ask for ANOTHER week to get instructions! Make up your mind Rosella – which excuse do you want to use? Whatever, the court was gullible enough to buy her ‘Sorry, I forgot’ story and issued yet another adjourment so that she could ‘unforget’ to get instructions from her client! Personally I think it was just another delaying tactic.
Today, in the fifth hearing we finally got the goods . . . here it is:
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF SAMOA
HELD AT MULINUU
BETWEEN: DENNIS ARTHUR SMITH of Aleisa
AND: SAMOA OBSERVER COMPANY LIMITED at
STATEMENT OF DEFENCE AND COUNTERCLAIM
THE DEFENDANT by its solicitor responds to the Statement of Claim as follows:
1. THAT it denies all allegations by the Plaintiff and puts him to the proof thereof and the Defendant further says that:
i) The Plaintiff had approached the editor of the Defendant Company Savea Sanoa Malifa (“Mr Malifa”), for the publication of his articles in return of the Defendant publishing his articles provided these were approved for publication.
ii) There was no agreement on the price per article but Mr Malifa had clearly indicated to the Plaintiff there was no commitment to publishing articles as it is subject to approval but will see how it goes.
iii) Three Articles were published and in return 3 advertisements were run by the Defendant.
iv) Thereafter no further articles were published for the main reason that the Defendant did not approve it for publication.
v) The Defendant maintinas the claim by the Plaintiff has no merits and ought to be dismissed.
AND BY WAY OF COUNTERCLAIM the Defendant repeats the foregoing paragraphs and says as follows:
2. THAT on or about 16 February 2013, the Plaintiff caused to publish on his blog defamatory comments about the Defendant and its editor in Chief, Mr Malifa.
PARTICULARS OF DEFAMATORY COMMENTS
3. THAT the blog entitled, “Savea Sano Malifa fooled by gossip”.
4. THAT at paragraph 1 of the blog, the Plaintiff wrote “Savea Sano Malifa, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Samoa Observer recently supplied me with a perfect example of the mindset and conduct of a Samoan who lives (and in Savea’s case works) in the world of gossip.”
5. THAT at paragraph 2 he writes “…it is actually the first time that I have documentary proof for others to see of the mostly hidden workings of the Samoan gossip machine”.
6. THAT under the subheading “motive for public disclosure” he writes: “Sure, I have a beef: his company ripped me off and he mouthed off some stuff … I think the guy is a “goose” and clearly has an attitude.”
7. THAT under the heading “comments” he further writes, I think that Savea has acted like a dick…the point of the post was that Savea was clearly fooled by gossip and combined with his pride set him up for his fall.”
8. THAT the whole context of the blog is defamatory, scandalous and libellous.
9. THAT the blog and specific comments set out in 2 -7 infers that the Defendant and Mr Malifa relies on gossip and therefore lies to form the basis of the articles and stories published by the Defendant.
10. THAT the blog and specific comments set out in 2-7 carries the imputation that the Defendant operate on lies and gossip.
11. THAT the blog is published on the Internet world widely and easily disseminated and/ or accessible by members of the public.
12. THAT the defendant company is a renowned newspaper medium in Samoa and internationally.
13. THAT its Editor in Chief, Mr Malifa is the winner of various international awards.
14. THAT the publications has lowered the Defendant and Mr Malifa’s reputation in the mind of right thinking members of the local and international community so that they would think less of the Defendant and Mr Malifa, its editor in chief.
15. THAT the publication has defamed the Defendant and Mr Malifa and they seek compensation accordingly in the sum of ST$1.5 million tala.
16. THAT the publication has caused much embarrassment, distress and inconvenience to the Defendant and he claims exemplary and punitive damages in the sum of SAT$500,000.
17. THAT the Defendant have incurred legal costs in defending and actioning this counterclaim and he seeks legal costs in the sum of $40,000.00
WHEREFORE the Defendant seeks:
a) A dismissal of the Plaintiffs claim:
b) Judgment pursuant to the counterclaim in the total sum of ST$2,0400000.00:
c) Costs: AND
d) Such further relief as the Court deems just in the circumstances.
DATED at APIA this 6th day of October 2015
COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENDDANT
(ROSELLA VIANE PAPALII)
THIS STATEMENT OF DEFENCE & COUNTERCLAIM is filed by ROSELLA VIANE PAPALII.
Counsel for the Defendant whose address for service is at the offices of RV PAPALII LAW LEVE 2 Maxkar House, Convent St, Apia
[Reproduced verbatim i.e. all the spelling, grammar and multiple formatting errors were in the original!]
In A Nutshell
The essence of Samoa Observer’s defence is that:
- Publication of the articles was at Samoa Observer’s whim, i.e. conditional upon editorial acceptance;
- There was no agreement on price/contra i.e. according to their defence I was supposedly writing articles on spec for Samoa Observer to use if they wanted to; and
- Three articles were published and three advertisements were run.
The essence of Samoa Observer’s counterclaim is defamation that:
- Has affected “Mr Malifa’s” reputation adversely;
- Has affected Samoa Observer’s reputation adversely; and
- Caused inconvenience to them.
It’s simple . . . bring it on Samoa Observer!
You have failed to pay your account owing to me. That’s theft.
You have delayed a court hearing for [to you} a pitiful amount of money using delaying and now bullying tactics. That makes you rather unlikeable in the mind of [as you say] “right thinking members of the local and international community”.
You have also now lied and deceived for pecuniary gain in an official court document submitted through your lawyers. This today makes your company greedy, lacking in ethics and a danger to the Samoan and international business community. With your claims to be “Founded Upon God [of the Bible]” that makes you al hypocrites by any reasoned measurement of Christian conduct.
In order for your court case to succeed against a blogger who is fearless to speak the truth anywhere, anytime, “Mr Malifa” will now need to lie in court, under oath. To see that would be worth the risk of a judgement of $2,000,000.00 and my potential bankruptcy if it had to come to that!
So bring it on, Samoa Observer, bring it on!
The reason that this is all so important?
It’s that Savea Sano Malifa is THE self-proclaimed voice of righteousness in Samoa, with a long history of calling others (particularly politicians) to account for their lies and corruption. Apart from the failings I have already mentioned, this makes Savea Sano Malifa, a senior leader in the Samoan community a hypocrite.
The people of Samoa deserve to know.
The people of Samoa deserve better.
Lastly I thank Samoa Observer, and Sano in particular, for the increased exposure that they have brought and will continue to bring to Samoa from the international journalism community, and also to me personally. While it’s not the sort of thing proud Samoan leaders would like to be known for I’m sure that the Streisand Effect will eventually work to the benefit of truth despite the negative exposure.
In my next post in this series about Samoa Observer, I analyse the claims in Samoa Observer’s Statement of Defence and Counterclaim in detail, providing not only clear logic why it is total nonsense, but also evidence that proves my statements that Samoa Observer has today deliberately mispresented the truth for pecuniary gain – commonly called lying and in many circumstances like this outright fraud and downright criminal conduct. These are serious claims and they will be body blows to the reputation and integrity of Samoa’s leading newspaper.
Following that post, I dive into dealing with the man Savea Sano Malifa himself, getting specific with another open letter and very direct ‘homely’ advice.
Stay tuned . . . Samoa may never be the same again!
- Savea Sano Malifa - Fooled by Gossip - the orginal post exposing Sano's foolish reliance on gossip
- Samoa Observer Sues Blogger for $2m - My initial notice following lodgement of Samoa Observer's Defence & Counterclaim
- Samoa Observer’s Dodgy Defence - Analysis of SA's document showing lies, twisting & logical fallacies
- Blogger Sues Samoa Observer - My [first] case against SA, the one that triggered their defamation case
- Open Letter – Samoa Observer - Telling it like it is!
- Observations on Samoa Observer - One example of SA's immoral conduct [theft]
- Suing Samoa Observer - An offer to help anyone anywhere sue SA
- MEDIA RELEASE: Samoa Observer Sues $2m - Media Release summarising the defamation case
- The Two Million Tala Palagi - The Book, contains all documents, web posts, the original articles and commentary
- Warning to lawyer Rosella V Papalii - Open Letter to Samoa Observer's lawyer discussing legal, moral and personal issues relating to the case.