The Saipan Tribune yesterday published a grossly misleading story about the District Court’s action in Dr. Ramsey’s lawsuit against Commonwealth Heathcare Corp. CEO Esther Muña and others. The headline on the top of page 6 reads, “6 out of 10 claims in Dr. Ramsey’s lawsuit dismissed.” This is utterly false.
Only two causes of action were dismissed outright, the constitutional claims based on violation of the federal and CNMI constitutional prohibitions against impairment of the obligation of contracts. The court held those constitutional claims require that plaintiff show legislative action impairing his contract. Dr. Ramsey does not contend that his contractual rights were impaired by legislative action. In any case, those causes of action overlapped with others that remain in the case and thus were of minimal importance.
Moreover, Dr. Ramsey’s complaint had 11 causes of action, not 10.
As for the other four claims the Tribune represents to have been dismissed, those were dismissed only as to the CNMI and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Those claims remain fully vital against all the other defendants, thus ensuring that a full and complete remedy on those claims remains available to Dr. Ramsey.
The dismissal was on the purely technical statutory ground that the Commonwealth government and CHCC are not “persons” for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This is no revelation at all. Dr. Ramsey never alleged that the CNMI is a Section 1983 “person,” only that the Commonwealth remains liable for any Section 1983 judgment in Dr. Ramsey’s favor against individual defendants, pursuant to its own law requiring the CNMI to defend its officers, agents, and employees against such claims and to indemnify them for any damages judgments.
Whether CHCC is a Section 1983 “person” or not is a close call, as the District Court acknowledged.
The dismissals have absolutely nothing to do with the merits of Dr. Ramsey’s complaint.
The real news of the District Court’s order was in its holdings in Dr. Ramsey’s favor, not what was reported, the very few points of the decision that went against him.
Stephen C. Woodruff
Attorney for Dr. Ramsey