Court extends TRO vs CCC


The U.S. District Court for the NMI has extended the temporary restraining order taken out by Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC against the Commonwealth Casino Commission to allow the defense to properly respond to IPI’s complaint.

During a status conference yesterday for the complaint and TRO filed by IPI against the CCC, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona granted the CCC’s request for “enlargement of time to properly respond” to the complaint.

“Defendants are to respond no later than Tuesday, May 31, at 12 noon and plaintiff’s reply is due Thursday, June 2,” she said.

Manglona also extended IPI’s TRO to expire on June 8, at 12pm instead of June 3.

The court also set an order to show cause hearing for Monday, June 6, at 1:30pm to address the parties’ responses.

Meanwhile, IPI counsel Kevin Abikoff notified the court that IPI was ready to post the $100,000 bond as directed by the court pursuant to filing the TRO.

The court ordered plaintiffs to initiate the $100,000 cash bond to the clerk of court of the District Court by the end of yesterday.

Last Monday, Manglona granted IPI’s request for a TRO to prevent the Casino Commission from holding a hearing on May 24 to 25 to revoke IPI’s exclusive casino license.

In her order, Manglona directed CCC, its executive director, employees, agents and attorneys, and all persons acting in concert with it or them, to immediately “cease and desist” from proceeding with Enforcement Action 2021-001-005 (consolidated) including convening the enforcement hearing scheduled for May 24 to 25.

One of the main reasons the TRO was granted, Manglona said, was that the potential harm to IPI and its subsidiary, Best Sunshine, should the court decline their motion for a TRO greatly outweighs any harm that the CCC may incur.

Manglona noted that the plaintiffs anticipate receiving $150 million in financing before the end of May to make payments due to the CCC and other creditors and to resume its operations.

In addition, Manglona said, plaintiffs have raised serious questions going to the merits of requiring arbitration pursuant to the Casino License Agreement.

Manglona also stated in her order that if the court declines to grant a temporary restraining order, plaintiffs will incur immediate and irreparable injury because plaintiffs will be deprived of their contractual right to assert a force majeure defense of the Casino License Agreement and a procedural right to the dispute resolution process that allows for arbitration and the opportunity to submit the arbitrator’s decision to the Commonwealth Superior Court.

Lastly, the public interest would be served by the issuance of a temporary restraining order, she said.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, the CCC is seeking the complete revocation of IPI’s license because it has failed to comply with the requirement to lift its suspension, like paying over $30 million in fees.

IPI’s exclusive license was suspended back in May 2021 and the casino operator was given six months to pay both the $15.5 million casino license fee, the $3.1 million regulatory fee, and a $6.6 million fine to lift the suspension.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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