A Superior Court jury has found two tour companies liable to pay a $2.3 million in damages to the mother and estate of a Korean tourist who drowned while cliff fishing at Dump Coke on Tinian in December 2008.
During a trial on Tinian that began last Jan. 20, the jurors reached a unanimous verdict on Wednesday, finding Mode Tour Network Inc. and Mode Tour Saipan Corp. negligent, resulting in the accidental death of Hoseung Jung.
The jurors attributed 90 percent of fault to Mode Tour Network Inc. and 10 percent fault to Mode Tour Saipan Corp.
The jurors awarded $500,000 to Jung’s mother, Jung Su An, for mental pain and suffering. They awarded $1.8 million to the estate of the decedent, Hoseung Jung, for pecuniary injury.
Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio presided over the trial. Attorney Colin Thompson served as counsel for widow Eun Ju Jun, mother Jung Su An, and brother Ho Chan Jung, who served as personal representative of the decedent.
The plaintiffs sued Mode Tour Network Inc., Mode Tour Saipan Corp., and Jae Min Corp.
Attorney Thomas Clifford served as counsel for Mode Tour Network Inc. and Mode Tour Saipan Corp.
Thompson stated in the complaint that Jun and her husband, Joung, had traveled to the CNMI in December 2008 for their honeymoon. In consultation with Mode Tour Network, the couple booked a cliff fishing tour when they visited Tinian.
Thompson said Mode Tour did not warn or disclose the potential dangers involved in the cliff fishing tour.
The tour guides took the couple and six other Korean tourists to a site popularly called Dump Coke, a fishing area located at a remote and rural part of Tinian.
After fishing until 6:30pm, the group sat down to a dinner prepared by the tour agents. The dinner was held within a short distance of the cliff line.
As part of the dinner, Thompson said, the agents served alcoholic beverages.
At 9pm, the agents packed up the fishing rods and clean up the area. One of the agents drove the four women in the group, including Jun, back to Tinian Dynasty.
The male tourists, including Joung, and a tour agent stayed behind to wait for another car. The agent later realized that Joung was missing.
Thompson said the agents searched and found Joung floating face down in the water below the cliff. Police later retrieved Joung’s body and he was pronounced dead at the Tinian Health Center.
In Mode Tour Network’s and Mode Tour Saipan’s documents filed in court, Clifford said Mode Tour Network Inc. is merely a wholesaler of package tours in Korea, and that it’s only nexus to the accident is that it sold a tour package that included a visit to Tinian.
Clifford said Mode Tour Network identified the optional Jae Min Corp.’s cliff fishing tour on its website. He said Mode Tour Network understood the optional tour had an excellent safety record.
Clifford said Mode Tour Network did not sell the optional tour to the couple and it would never have received any money from their decision on Tinian to participate in the optional outing.
The lawyer said Mode Tour Saipan Corp., in turn, had selected Jae Min Corp. as an optional tour, but it also understood it to have an excellent safety record.
Clifford said any danger involved in the tour was just as fully open and obvious to the couple as it was to anyone else.
He said it is undisputed that the deceased had actual knowledge of the location of the cliff line after sunset.