The NMI Retirement Fund has asked the federal court to deny what it called a meritless motion by the Commonwealth Ports Authority.
Trustee ad litem Joseph Razzano, through counsel Braddock J. Huesman, said that CPA has no standing no seek a writ of mandamus that would compel the Fund to comply with the intent of Public Law 17-82. That law allows Fund members to withdraw the full amount of their contributions from the Fund without separating from the government.
Even if CPA has standing to seek the writ of mandamus, Razzano said that the U.S. District Court for the NMI should not compel the action CPA is seeking.
Razzano asked the federal court to order CPA pay the Fund all costs and attorneys' fees for filing the motion “without merit.”
CPA argues that P.L. 17-82 imposes clear, nondiscretionary duties on the Fund and its administrator to approve and pay out employee funds.
Because of CPA's motion, the Fund removed its 2006 lawsuit filed in Superior Court against the CNMI government and transferred it to federal court last week.
In the Fund's opposition filed Wednesday to CPA's motion, Huesman said the remedy of mandamus “is a drastic one, to be invoked only in extraordinary circumstances.”
Instead of attempting to intervene in District Court, Huesman said that CPA chose to interfere with the Fund's trustee ad litem and file the meritless request for a writ of mandamus.
The lawyer said the Fund has been forced to expend its dwindling resources, both time and money, to fight frivolous positions taken by its adversaries in the courts.
Huesman said CPA's motion is the latest frivolous and improper action taken against the Fund.
Huesman said CPA filed its motion in Superior Court even though it was aware that the issue was squarely before the District Court.
Moreover, the lawyer said, CPA never sought the District Court's permission to bring a claim against the court's designated trustee ad litem.
Huesman said that if CPA employees want to sue the Fund, that is their right, not CPA's.
“This standing problem is to pervasive that it infects and defeats the request for mandamus,” he added.
CPA counsel Robert Torres recently stated that they will certainly respond to the Fund's 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 govenor Benigno Fitial, the CNMI government, and co-defendants over the government's failure to remit required payments to the Fund.
In 2009, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo ruled that the government owes the Fund $282 million in damages and that the law suspending government contributions to the Fund is unconstitutional.