District Court opts for certified question

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The U.S. District Court for the NMI has opted to submit certified questions to the NMI Supreme Court pursuant to the mechanic’s lien application filed by Pacific Rim Land Development LLC against Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC.

During the continuance hearing yesterday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said that a certified question is necessary because of the difference between the state court and the CNMI’s interpretation of state law matters, specifically the interpretation the CNMI’s mechanic lien statute.

“I do find that the questions regarding the timeliness of a mechanics lien application has important public policy ramifications because it impacts the construction industry of the CNMI and the economic growth of the islands and for those reasons I believe that certification is appropriate,” she said.

One of the questions Manglona proposes to submit to the NMI Supreme Court was whether the date of completion of a project refers to the date of completion of the entire project or the date of completion of the contracted work by particular contractor.

The second proposed certified question was whether the notice of mutual termination constitutes a valid notice of completion, where the parties agreed that the contractor began its work and completed portions of the project and owners agrees the contractor’s obligation to the performed work under the construction contract are complete.

Manglona gave both parties the week to make any corrections or addition to the language of the certified question and said she’d send the certification questions out by next week.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Pacific Rim filed an application for 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 lawyer David Banes said the application for a mechanic’s lien on the Imperial Palace Saipan could have an extremely significant and crippling impact on both IPI and the CNMI’s economy.

Pacific Rim, through counsel Colin Thompson, 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 on Sept. 30, 2018.

Thompson said the unpaid amount that is owed Pacific Rim is $5.65 million, but it wants to collect from IPI approximately $10 million in damages that would be proven at trial.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista 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 kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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