Fed court denies DOC officer’s request to dismiss case


The U.S. District Court for the NMI has denied the motion to dismiss filed by one of the Department of Corrections officers facing a constitutional rights lawsuit filed by an inmate.

Chief judge Ramona V. Manglona denied DOC officer Damien Deleon Guerrero’s motion to dismiss the charges filed against him by inmate Clifford J. Palacios.

Palacios is suing Deleon Guerrero, among other DOC officials, for allegedly violating his constitutional rights and negligence.

Manglona has yet to issue an official order explaining the reason for her dismissal.

According to court documents, Palacios is suing DOC’s Kelvin Simina, De Leon Guerrero, Benjamin Lizama, Georgia Cabrera, Wally Villagomez, and one other unnamed individual for allegedly ordering that he be diverted back to DOC custody while he was on his way to the Commonwealth Health Center following a brutal fight between him and another inmate.

By allegedly ordering that he be diverted back to DOC instead of allowing him to get treated at the CHC, Palacios claims his constitutional rights were violated and DOC officers neglected their duty.

However, according to Deleon Guerrero’s lawyer, assistant attorney general Carl Dela Cruz, his client should be dismissed from the lawsuit because even if the allegation are considered true, the complaint fails to “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.”

“This is because the complaint is devoid of any allegation that Damien’s conduct amounted to a ‘deprivation’ within the meaning of the Constitution. Thus, the complaint on its face fails to make a plausible claim for relief and making dismissal of the complaint appropriate,” said the lawyer.

Also, Dela Cruz argued that his client is entitled to immunity.

“While the issue before the court involves important and often competing interests—the interest in protecting a pretrial detainee’s 14th Amendment Due Process Clause rights and the interest in protecting public employees from ‘disabling’ suits—the plaintiff has utterly failed to plead sufficient facts to show that Damien deprived him of his Due Process Clause rights. Therefore, Damien is deserving of dismissal and should not bear the burden and costs of discovery and litigation on the basis of such deficient complaint,” he said.

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 kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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