U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted yesterday Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a former contractor against IPI and unnamed co-defendants.
Manglona, however, allowed IPI’s former contractor, Pacific Rim Land Development LLC, to amend its lawsuit.
The judge basically found that Pacific Rim failed to adequately plead diversity jurisdiction.
Diversity jurisdiction case means that the plaintiff, Pacific Rim, and defendant, IPI, and co-defendants are different citizens from different states.
Manglona said what she is trying to protect is having an erroneous assumption as to the citizenship of the parties, including the unnamed co-defendants.
Manglona also denied without prejudice Pacific Rim’s application for mechanic’s lien on the same issue of jurisdiction.
Pacific Rim was allowed to amend its application to place a mechanic’s lien on IPI’s hotel-casino project and on the land that it sits on.
A mechanic’s lien refers to a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property.
IPI’s general counsel, Phillip J. Tydingco, requested that the hearing on the mechanic’s lien be postponed.
Tydingco argued that Pacific Rim’s response effectively concedes that their complaint does not contain allegations to support issuance of a mechanic’s lien under Commonwealth law.
Manglona set a hearing on Pacific Rim’s application for a mechanic’s lien for Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 1:30pm.
Manglona said the amended application for mechanic’s lien is due no later than today, Wednesday, and briefs are due no later than Friday, Dec. 6.
In an interview after the hearing, Tydingco said their motion for judgment on the pleadings is like a motion to dismiss and that the judge granted it. However, the judge allowed Pacific Rim to re-file all the paperwork.
“I guess that they just need to refile it and follow whatever the court thought was deficient,” Tydingco said.
In a separate interview, Pacific Rim counsel Colin Thompson said they will be amending their complaint and will be back next week on their application for a mechanic’s lien.
Thompson said Manglona’s dismissal of the complaint has something to do with pleadings and the way they alleged diversity jurisdiction.
“The judge was not satisfied the way we alleged that. We will be making new allegations to establish that,” Thompson said.
Thompson said what was heard was limited to the issue whether this case could be heard in all the federal court or has to be heard in the Superior Court.
Thompson said Manglona stated that it could be heard in the District Court if diversity jurisdiction is established.
On the mechanic’s lien issue, Thompson said the judge denied it on same reason because if the District Court has no jurisdiction in the case, then the case is not going to move forward.
“We have to fix that first before we can move forward on the application for lien and we will be doing that right away and we will be back here next Tuesday to present our case,” he said.
The lawyer said Manglona wants to amend the wording, the language, of Pacific Rim’s allegations about diversity jurisdiction. “Who are these LLCs? What is their citizenship? Pacific Rim LLC and IPI LLC. What is their citizenship for the purposes of the federal court’s interpretation,” Thompson said.
Pacific Rim is suing IPI and five unnamed alleged co-conspirators for breach of contract (construction and promissory note), and unjust enrichment.
Pacific Rim claimed to have substantially completed or completed the agreed upon construction work for IPI’s casino-resort project on Sept. 30, 2018.
Thompson said IPI owes Pacific Rim $5.65 million.