Former Indigenous Affairs executive director Ignacio DLG Demapan and his wife, Frieda S. R. Demapan, have filed a lawsuit against the owner of a building along Beach Road, where the Saipan Mayor’s Office is located, for allegedly failing to maintain its elevator that bounced violently, causing them injuries.
The Demapan couple, through counsel David G. Banes, is suing Chong International Corp. and its majority shareholder and manager, Jang Lee Chong, for negligence.
The couple asked the Superior Court to hold CIC and Chong liable to pay them damages for economic and non-economic injuries and losses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical care and expenses in an amount to be proven at trial. They are also demanding payment of attorney’s fees and court costs.
CIC is the owner and landlord of Ladera Center Building located on Beach Road, Saipan.
As of press time, Saipan Tribune was still trying to get comments from Chong.
According to Banes, while commercial units in the Ladera Center may be leased to tenants, CIC retains control and possession of the common area and facilities in the building, including its elevator.
Banes said rather than hiring a professional third party that is competent to maintain and repair the elevator, Chong would personally try to maintain and repair the elevator.
Banes said that around July 18, 2017, during normal business hours, the Demapan couple went to the Ladera Center to go to the mayor’s office.
Banes said in going up and down the building, the couple used the elevator.
During the couple’s ride, the elevator allegedly malfunctioned and bounced violently, causing them to sustain injuries.
Banes said CIC’s management, including Chong, who live in the same building, knew people riding the elevator could be injured when it malfunctioned.
Banes said the management and Chong knew they were not competent to maintain and repair the elevator by themselves.
The lawyer said the day before the couple went to the Ladera Center, the elevator had severely malfunctioned and caused three minors to be struck inside, necessitating intervention by the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
Banes said CIC and Chong had learned about that incident, but did not repair the elevator at all, nor did they put up a sign to warn people not to use the elevator.
Banes also disclosed that while CIC’s annual report states a capitalization of $1 million paid for its share, CIC is actually undercapitalized with regards to its actual and potential liabilities.
The lawyer alleged that the undercapitalization was intended by Chong “as a way to defeat claims of actual and potential creditors.”