A long-time employee of the Department of Public Works who was terminated from his job after being arrested on “ice” trafficking charges has sued DPW and the CNMI government for allegedly refusing to reinstate him despite the dismissal of his case.
Sylvan M. Cabrera also named as co-defendants then DPW secretary Martin C. Sablan and the Civil Service Commission.
Cabrera, through counsel Joe Hill, is suing Sablan for violation of his civil rights and abuse of power. He is suing Sablan, DPW, and the commission for failure to act pursuant to the Commonwealth Administrative Procedure Act.
The plaintiff asked the Superior Court to declare that the court's March 4, 2011, order dismissing his criminal case makes it mandatory for DPW and the commission to reinstate him with benefits and pay, retroactive to the date of suspension.
Cabrera is also demanding payment for damages, attorney's fees, and court costs.
Alternatively, Cabrera is asking the court to give him the opportunity for a full hearing on his claims and appeal before the court, DPW, and the commission.
Members of the CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force used a cooperating source to buy $100 worth of “ice” from Pedro Rediall Demapan.
It was Cabrera, however, who allegedly showed up at the agreed meeting place-the parking lot of a store in Chalan Kanoa. Cabrera was aboard a car and allegedly handed the “ice” to the cooperating source.
In February 2011, Demapan pleaded guilty and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison without parole.
On March 4, 2011, associate judge Perry B. Inos dismissed without prejudice the case against Cabrera after the Office of the Attorney General moved to drop the charges.
Dismissal without prejudice is when a case is dismissed but the plaintiff is allowed to re-file a new suit on the same claim in the future.
In his lawsuit, Cabrera said he has been employed with DPL for more than 12 years and that his most recent position was that of a trades mechanic helper.
On July 16, 2010, Cabrera was arrested in connection with the “ice” trafficking case.
Hill said that during a meeting with Cabrera and his family with a DPW administrative staff at the DPW secretary's office on July 28, 2010, Cabrera was given a notice of adverse action for termination predated July 20, 2010.
Hill said the ground for termination was reports about Cabrera's alleged involvement in “ice” distribution.
Cabrera refused to sign the notice, saying he has not committed any criminal violation.
Cabrera later appealed his termination to the commission, which according to Hill failed to hear the appeal but issued a denial of hearing.
Hill said that, on March 4, 2011, Cabrera met with then secretary Sablan and the administrative staff and showed them a copy of the dismissal of the criminal case.
Hill said Cabrera informed Sablan and the administrative staff of his desire to return to work.
The lawyer said that DPW and Sablan failed and refused to reinstate Cabrera after that meeting.
On March 8, 2011, Cabrera also served copies of the dismissal order on the Office of the Personnel Management and the commission.
Hill said Sablan and DPW have not promulgated administrative rules and regulations in compliance with constitutional standards of due process in compliance with the Commonwealth Procedure Act.