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CCC opposes IPI motion to remand suit to Superior Court

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The Commonwealth Casino Commission and its executive director, Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, are opposed to Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s motion to remand IPI’s lawsuit against CCC to the Superior Court.

In CCC and Deleon Guerrero’s opposition filed in federal court Monday, assistant attorneys general Benjamin K. Petersburg and Michael L. Ernest argued that the federal questions will ultimately decide all matters at issue and the U.S. District Court for the NMI’s exercise of jurisdiction over all claims is appropriate.

Petersburg and Ernest said the District Court has jurisdiction over the federal questions presented in this case and supplemental jurisdiction over any other state law claims.

“Because transparency in casino regulation is not a sensitive area of social policy, resolution of state law issues will not obviate U.S. constitutional concerns, and the proper resolution of any state law issues is not uncertain, this court should not abstain and should exercise its jurisdiction over all claims,” they said.

In IPI’s motion for remand, IPI counsel Viola Alepuyo and Phillip J. Tydingco asserted that the law and the facts justify bringing their claims, if not their lawsuit, to the Superior Court.

Alepuyo and Tydingco cited grounds of the forum selection clause, the abstention doctrines of Pullman and Burford, abstention under Covenant, and the lack of supplemental jurisdiction and or declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.

Under the Pullman doctrine, a federal court may abstain or choose not to hear a case, until the state law question can be resolved in state court.

The Burford abstention doctrine essentially concerns protecting complex state administrative processes from undue federal interference.

Last June, IPI filed the lawsuit to prohibit CCC from disclosing publicly confidential income tax information that is the subject of dispute between IPI and CCC.

IPI sought the court’s injunction following Rep. Edwin Propst (Ind-Saipan) Open Government Act request.

Last month, CCC moved to transfer IPI’s complaint to the District Court.

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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