Palau Supreme Court Trial Division dismissed Jackson Ngiraingas’s lawsuit against Vice President J. Uduch Sengebau-Senior in her capacity as Vice President and Minister of Justice and in her individual capacity.
The order states that the court lacked the power to rule on the matter affecting the defendant, Vice President Sengebau-Senior. Therefore, Jackson R. Ngiraingas, dba Palau Commercial Fishing Company’s case is dismissed for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction.
On July 18, 2021, Mr. Ngiraingas filed a lawsuit against Vice President J. Uduch Sengebau-Senior, both in her official capacity and personal capacity, claimed that the “Republic allegedly failed to issue a proper warning of the storm” Surigae, damaging three of his fishing vessels. The plaintiff Ngiraingas sought monetary relief for the damages to the three fishing boats and declaratory relief that the Republic violated Section 9 of the Open Government Act.
Suing government employees in their capacity is suing the government. To sue the government, the Plaintiff must overcome sovereign immunity. Government can waive its sovereign immunity but the waiver is restricted. Trial Court and Supreme Court have no power over cases against government employees performing discretionary duties or functions.
“Discretionary functions” is the key term determining whether sovereign immunity is waived and involves an “element of judgment or choice.”
“Plaintiff has failed to overcome sovereign immunity, which protects Defendant while exercising discretion on the part of her agency,” states the court, dismissing the suit.

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