Federal court dismisses ex-speaker Babauta from racketeering lawsuit


The federal court has dropped former House speaker Oscar M. Babauta as one of the defendants in a racketeering lawsuit filed by a businessman and his former company.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted Babauta’s motion to dismiss all claims against him in the lawsuit filed by Il Hwan Kim and KSA Corp.

According to the minutes of a recent hearing, the dismissal is with prejudice, which means Kim and KSA Corp. can no longer re-file the claims against Babauta.

Manglona said that, after reviewing the complaint and the plaintiffs’ response, it’s been determined that the complaint lacks specific facts to support the claims against Babauta.

The judge said that Kim has had enough time to cure these deficiencies and this was indicated to the Kim’s lawyer back in June 2016, a week or so after the complaint was served on Babauta.

Manglona said that Kim and KSA have yet to submit any factual basis to support an amendment of the complaint.

Attorney Rene Holmes stated they were counsel of record now for plaintiffs and this was never pointed out to her before.

The F. Matthew Smith law firm used to be counsel for Kim and KSA. Office of the Attorney General Civil Division chief Christopher M. Timmons served as counsel for Babauta.

Holmes and attorney Brien Sers Nicholas, counsel for another defendant, Ramon S. Salas, apprised the court regarding discovery issues.

Manglona set a new bench trial for Feb. 28, 2018.

In Babauta’s motion to dismiss, Timmons asserted that the court lacks jurisdiction because Babauta had legislative immunity and qualified immunity.

Last March, Kim and KSA Corp., through counsel Jennifer Dockter, requested the court to issue a default judgment against Babauta’s three other co-defendants: Hun Jin An, Jeong Eun Tack, and Joann P. Hensley.

Dockter said An, Tack and Hensley continue to fail to respond to the case.

Kim and KSA alleged in their lawsuit that the defendants conspired to steal millions of dollars from him for his hotel and casino project on Saipan.

Kim and KSA Corp. sued the defendants pursuant to Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act and other causes of action.

The plaintiffs asked the court to hold the defendants liable to pay him damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

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

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