Legal Memorandum: Injunction in a Lineage Land Title Case

Issue: Under the laws of the Marshall Islands, in determining whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction in a lineage land title case, what must a party show in order to demonstrate the ‘probability of success on the merits’?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Preliminary injunction; Lineage land title case; Probability of success on the merits
Jurisdiction: Marshall Islands
Cited Cases: 13 F.3d 1313; 584 F.2d 308; 526 F.2d 86
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2004

It should be noted that the probability of success need not be established with exactitude: “It is not necessary . . . that the moving party be reasonably certain to succeed on the merits.  If the harm that may occur to the plaintiff is sufficiently serious, it is only necessary that there be a fair chance of success on the merits.”  Wm. Inglis & Sons Baking Co. v. ITT Continental Baking Co., 526 F.2d 86, 88 (9th Cir. 1975) (citations omitted).  That is, “it must be shown as an irreducible minimum that there is a fair chance of success on the merits.”  Stanley v. Univ. of S. Cal., 13 F.3d 1313, 1319 (9th Cir. 1994).  Further, where the balance of hardships “tips decidedly toward the plaintiff, the plaintiff need not show as robust a likelihood of success on the merits.”  Benda v. Grand Lodge of IAM, 584 F.2d 308, 315 (9th Cir. 1978). 

Marshallese custom and tradition holds that lineage land is inherited horizontally for the oldest to the youngest persons in the oldest to youngest clanSee Janre v. Labruno, 6 T.T.R. 133; Lenekem v. Lidrik, 6 T.T.R. 327 (generally, under Marshallese custom, succession to title and interest in land proceeds horizontally within the clan, not vertically, to the youngest member of the clan in the same generation as the prior titleholder, and title does not descend to a titleholder’s children until all members of one or more clan […]

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