The NMI Retirement Fund yesterday removed its 2006 lawsuit against the CNMI government from the Superior Court to the federal court.
The Fund, through trustee ad litem Joseph Razzano, filed a notice of removal in the U.S. District Court for the NMI of its lawsuit because of the Commonwealth Ports Authority's filing last Feb. 13 of a motion for writ of mandamus in the Superior Court.
Attorney Daniel J. Berman, counsel for the Fund, said that CPA's motion purports to assert a claim and cause of action against Razzano and Fund administrator Lillian Pangelinan to compel immediate distribution of all Public Law 17-82 money related to employee contributions.
Public Law 17-82 that allows Fund members to withdraw the full amount of their contributions without separating from the government.
CPA said that P.L. 17-82 imposes clear, nondiscretionary duties on the Fund and its administrator to approve and pay out employee funds.
In the Fund's notice of removal, Berman said CPA's motion against Razzano is in violation of the federal court's order.
Berman said that designated judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood's order appointing the trustee ad litem also states that “no suit shall be filed against the trustee ad litem without the consent of this court.”
Berman said the district court created the trustee ad litem and it alone has the power to declare when and by whom it can be sued.
CPA counsel Robert Torres said yesterday that they will respond to this court action.
Torres said CPA and its employees have great concerns regarding the handling of the matter inasmuch as the Fund brought the case in Superior Court all the way to judgment.
“This is not a new action and CPA will continue to assert and protect its interests, disagreeing with the approach of the trustee but agreeing only in the intended goal of obtaining satisfaction of judgment,” Torres said.
The Fund filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in 2006 against then Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, the CNMI government, and co-defendants over the government's failure to remit required payments to the Fund.