9th Circuit dismisses SDLLC’s appeal over $190.8M PPA


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has dismissed the appeal of Saipan Development LLC in connection with its lawsuit against the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. over the voided $190.8-million sole-sourced power purchase agreement entered by then-governor Benigno R. Fitial and SDLLC.

The Ninth Circuit said SDLLC’s appeal is voluntarily dismissed pursuant to the parties’ stipulated motion.

The Ninth Circuit said the parties shall bear their own costs and fees on appeal.

The reason behind the parties’ request to dismiss the appeal was not indicated in court documents.

SDLLC, through counsel William M. Fitzgerald, informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI in July 2014 that the company is appealing to the Ninth Circuit to reverse Chief Judge Ramona Manglona’s order issued on June 24, 2014.

In the June 24, 2014 order, Manglona abstained from hearing SDLLC’s lawsuit and granted CUC’s motion to dismiss the suit with prejudice. Dismiss with prejudice means SDLLC cannot re-open the case.

SDLLC is the Delaware-based contractor of the controversial PPA that Fitial and then-attorney general Edward T. Buckingham inked on behalf of CUC.

SDLLC entered into a contract with CUC in 2012 to build a new power plant. That same year, lawmakers led by then-representative Janet Maratita filed a taxpayers’ lawsuit in Superior Court against SDLLC and CUC to declare the contract invalid.

In January 2013, Buckingham’s successor as attorney general informed SDLLC that the contract was legally invalid and void from the beginning.

Almost a year later, SDLLC sued CUC for breach of contract in federal court.

CUC then moved to dismiss the lawsuit, asserting that the decision of Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman to declare the PPA void from the beginning should preclude SDLLC’s lawsuit in District Court.

The PPA was among the key issues comprising the articles of impeachment against Fitial. Facing impeachment, Fitial subsequently resigned as governor in February 2013.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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