The attorney for the Ngarametal Association, James Kennedy, said he has turned in to the Clerk of Courts the 2.4 million dollars in compliance with a Court order issued on May 8, 2023. The court has ordered Mr. Kennedy to transfer the funds received from Civil Action 16-052 to the Clerk of Courts for safekeeping until the rightful leadership of the Ngarametal Association is determined.

On October 16, 2023, the court issued an order holding Mr. Kennedy in contempt of court for not complying with its order and ordered him to pay $1,000 per week to the court two days after the order date until the order was satisfied.

Kennedy said he complied with the order before the two-day deadline, providing all the funds plus interest, and did not have to pay any fines. The funds, said Kennedy, were deposited into the client trust account he created after he won the judgment for Ngarametal Association against Island Paradise Resort under the Civil Action 16-052. He has not touched the money since it was first deposited and has bank statements to prove it.

In response to why he did not comply with the court order on a timely basis, Kennedy said that the issue was complicated, involving cultural matters, which the Ngarametal case is about.

He disagreed with Judge Salii’s order.  “This is an order that I think is incorrect, issued by a good judge.  I think Judge Salii is a good judge.  I disagree with the propriety of this order because the court should not force the traditional dispute into court.”

Explaining his point, Kennedy said that no one from either side of the Ngarametal leadership dispute had filed their dispute in the court. The court dismissed the case Mlib Tmetuchl brought, demanding Kennedy turn over the funds to him.  “Although there is a dispute,  it’s not pending in the court because this action has been dismissed.”

James Kennedy was retained as attorney for the Ngarametal Association, he said, around 2018.  At the time, the Ngarametal Association had been going to court with Island Paradise Resort for seven years over the issue of compensation for the burning down of Bairametal.  Kennedy said that after taking over the case, he got a court judgment against Paradise Island Resort, resulting in the payment of 2.4 million to the Ngarametal Association.

The passing of Ibedul Yutaka Gibbon and Ngirioulidid Johnny Gibbons led to a dispute over the rightful leaders of Ngarametal.  The proceeds from the court case have been with the Ngarametal Association’s attorney until the recent order from the court demanding attorney Kennedy to turn in the money to the Clerk of Courts pending the resolution of the dispute.

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