Ex-employee opposes CUC bid to have his suit junked


Carlton Stevens, a former Commonwealth Utilities Corp. employee, has asked the federal court to deny CUC’s motion to dismiss his discrimination lawsuit against the agency.

Stevens, through counsel Pamela Brown Blackburn, also requested the court to give him an opportunity to amend his complaint if the court finds defects in his first amended complaint.

Blackburn argued that Stevens’ complaint satisfies federal rules of procedure because it identifies claims for which relief can be granted.

Blackburn said the complaint also provides fair notice of the factual circumstances giving rise to the claim.

“The test for the sufficiency of a complaint at the pleading stage is not one of evidentiary production or persuasion, but simply of notification,” she said.

Blackburn said that Stevens has sufficiently plead his retaliation claim regarding CUC’s refusal to hire him for his former position due to his filing of his Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims regarding employment discrimination based on race and retaliation charges against CUC.

In CUC’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint, CUC counsel James S. Sirok, asserted that the lawsuit fails to properly allege subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because jurisdictional requirements have not been satisfied.

Sirok argued that to bring a Title VII of the Civil Rights Act claim, plaintiff is required to exhaust administrative remedies by filing a claim with the EEOC.

Sirok said Stevens did not actually apply for the position until Jan. 21, 2014, when he applied for the position but was informed it was withdrawn.

“This was approximately 11 months after his contract had expired, thus breaking any inference of causation,” he said.

Stevens, an African-American, sued CUC and its four officials for allegedly not renewing his contract as direct responsible charge operator in CUC’s wastewater division, providing him a used and inoperable computer, and not providing him an office space, among other complaints.

Stevens asked the court to hold the defendants liable to pay him unspecified compensatory damages, courts costs, and attorney’s fees.

Last month, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed Stevens’ discrimination lawsuit.

Manglona dismissed Stevens’ claims against CUC, executive director Alan Fletcher, human resources director Frank Cepeda, wastewater manager Richard Wasser, and water and wastewater manager Paul Raczkowski, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Manglona dismissed with prejudice all Stevens’ claims against Fletcher, Cepeda, Wasser, and Raczkowski, and dismissed without prejudice his complaint against CUC.

Dismissed with prejudice means Stevens can’t re-open the claims anymore. Dismissed without prejudice means the plaintiff can re-file the claims in the future.

Manglona granted Stevens 14 days from the date of the order in which to file a second amended complaint.
Stevens subsequently filed the second amended complaint.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.