Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho yesterday found no basis to sanction two lawyers representing former governor Pedro P. Tenorio and his wife Sophia Tenorio in a lawsuit against the owner of the defunct Hotel Riviera Saipan.
After listening to the counsels' arguments, Camacho said he is satisfied with the explanations of attorneys Daniel C. Stafford and Tiberius Mocanu.
Camacho said Stafford and Mocanu acted in good faith and were not purposely attempting to waste the court's resources or of the defendant Chang Shin Resort Saipan Corp.
Stafford and Mocanu explained that the Tenorio couple's motion for preliminary injunctive relief was initially withdrawn for fear of Rule II sanctions and refiled after it was reviewed. They believed at the time that the motion was founded in law and was filed in good faith.
On Friday, Camacho directed Stafford and Mocanu to explain why they should not be sanctioned over the twice filing of a motion for preliminary injunctive relief within a 24-hour period.
At the hearing, Stafford and Mocanu apologized to the court and to F. Matthew Smith, who along with Jennifer Dockter, is representing Chang Shin Resort Saipan Corp.
Mocanu said he will contact the Tenorios if they could withdraw the motion for preliminary injunctive relief.
Later in the afternoon yesterday, Mocanu notified the court that the Tenorios are withdrawing their motion for preliminary injunctive relief.
“The plaintiffs however reserve the right to file a similar motion if the same, or similar, situation arises and the property is in jeopardy of being left unsecured or falling further into disrepair as a result of an act or omission of the defendant,” Mocanu said in the notice of withdrawal.
At the hearing, Smith said the action in filing the motion for preliminary injunctive relief is ridiculous.
“It really harmed our client,” Smith said.
Smith said there is a pending motion for summary judgment in this case.
In the Tenorios' motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Stafford asked the court issue an order prohibiting Chang Shin Resort Saipan Corp. from leaving the hotel premises unsecured, and directing the corporation not to take any action that would damage the property.
Stafford later filed a notice to withdraw the motion.
Mocanu then filed a notice to substitute Stafford as counsel for the Tenorios, saying Stafford will be relocating off-island this month.
Later that same day, Mocanu filed the same plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunctive relief that Stafford asked a day before to be withdrawn.
In his show cause order issued on Friday, Camacho said he is very concerned whether these two lawyers for the plaintiffs know what they are doing or are simply playing games.
In response to the order to show cause, Stafford said he filed the motion for preliminary injunctive relief on plaintiffs' behalf based on credible evidence that the security company guarding the hotel planned on leaving the job on Feb. 22, 2013.
Stafford said the security company's pending departure would have given rise in conditions that endangered the health and safety of the community and the value of the parties' investments.
Stafford said that within hours of filing the motion, Smith called him and stated that he intended to pursue Rule 11 sanctions against him if he did not immediately withdraw the motion.
Stafford said even though he felt there was no legal basis for Smith's actions, he did not want to risk departing Saipan with an unresolved Rule 11 matter on file with the court.