Former hospital services director sues CHCC over alleged unpaid wages, benefits, expenses


Former Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. hospital services director Karen Audrey Buettner is suing CHCC for allegedly refusing to pay her $9,803.91 in unpaid wages and benefits plus unreimbursed work-related expenses.

Buettner, through counsel Samuel I. Mok, asked the Superior Court to hold CHCC liable for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

Buettner also demanded payment for court costs and attorney’s fees. She requested a jury trial.

Buettner served as the director at CHCC’s hospital services from Nov. 22, 2011 to June 11, 2013 pursuant to a written employment contract.

On June 11, 2013, CHCC chief executive officer Esther L. Muna sent a letter to Buettner, terminating her without cause from her position.

According to Mok in the complaint, Muna’s letter stated that Buettner had accrued 27 days of unused annual leave along with three additional days of severance pay for a total of 30 paid working days.

Mok said his client received payment from CHCC for 26 days of unused annual leave resulting in a balance of one day of annual leave that has not yet been paid.

Mok said in addition, plaintiff has not yet received the three days of severance pay promised in the termination letter.

The lawyer said since Buettner received notice of termination letter on June 11, 2013, pursuant to the employment contract that means her employment did not officially end until July 11, 2013.

Mok said Buettner is therefore owed regular wages from June 11 to July 11, 2013, which amounts to 22 working days or 176 hours.

Mok said Buettner is also owed the annual leave she accrued during the 30-day notice period in the amount of two days as well as the annual leave she accrued for the unused annual leave itself, which amounts to two more days, or for a total of four additional annual leave days or 32 hours.

The lawyer said Buettner is also owed $573.51 for unreimbursed expenses she incurred during her employment that she advanced out of her own pocket as well as hotel and parking expenses she paid while attending an off-island Medicare/Medicaid conference in San Francisco.

To date, Mok said, CHCC has refused to pay in full the amount due and owing to Buettner despite due demand.

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

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.