CUC, DPW blame woman for Kagman road accident


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and the Department of Public Works are blaming a woman for being negligent when a cut tree fell directly on top of a vehicle she was driving on Kagman Road. The woman, Patricia Aldan, is suing the two agencies for injuries and damage she sustained in the accident.

In CUC’s and DPW’s answer to the lawsuit, CUC lawyer James S. Sirok and assistant attorney general David Lochabay, representing DPW, said that Aldan was negligent in that she drove the vehicle, without proper caution, into an area where there were workmen in safety vests and hard hats, caution cones in the road, a backhoe, work trucks, and other visible indicators of work in progress on or near the road.

Sirok and Lochabay said DPW personnel at the worksite exercised all due caution in directing traffic.

Sirok and Lochabay noted that at least two DPW personnel waved flags and shouted at Aldan’s vehicle as it entered the work area.

Other than directing traffic, the lawyers said, DPW personnel were not involved in the tree trimming, which was ongoing at the worksite.

CUC, however, filed a cross-claim against DPW.

Sirok said DPW personnel were assigned to control the traffic flow along a portion of Kagman Road for the purpose of ensuring the safety of motorists while CUC personnel were trimming trees nearby.

Sirok said DPW personnel had the responsibility and duty to CUC to ensure that the vehicle in which Aldan and her child were on did not continue along the road at the time CUC personnel were cutting tree limbs.

Sirok said in the event that it is proven by Aldan that DPW personnel did not comply with their responsibility and duty and were negligent in their conduct of controlling the traffic flow, then DPW is liable to CUC for any damages suffered by CUC.

Aldan and on behalf of her then-5-year-old child are suing CUC and DPW for negligence. Diego Cabrera, owner of the damaged vehicle, a 2005 Kia Spectra, also joined in the lawsuit as co-plaintiff.

The plaintiffs, through counsel Mark A. Scoggins, asked the Superior Court to hold CUC and DPW liable to pay them unspecified damages.

According to the complaint, Aldan was driving the vehicle with her minor child as her passenger on Kagman Road on Feb. 4, 2013, shortly before 11am, when she heard shouting and saw a tree falling toward her car. Aldan slammed on the brakes, but could not avoid the falling tree. The tree fell directly on top of the car.

Scoggins said the vehicle was a total loss and that Aldan suffered physical injuries.

He said the Commonwealth was negligent and did not exercise due care in cutting trees and by directing traffic away from the tree work. He claimed there was no or insufficient personnel, and no barriers or signs to direct traffic.

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

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