Govt, CHCC seek to suspend proceedings in doctor’s lawsuit


The CNMI government, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and other co-defendants in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former CHC physician Dr. Gary Ramsey are seeking to have all proceedings in the case suspended while waiting for the result of their appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Assistant attorney general James M. Zarones, counsel for the government, CHCC, and co-defendants, asserted that the U.S. District Court for the NMI should stay all proceedings because the filing of their appeal divested the court of jurisdiction over those defendants.

Zarones said they appealed to the Ninth Circuit in June the federal court’s May 29, 2015 order, which held that the defendants are not entitled to sovereign immunity.

Zarones said only four claims in Ramsey’s lawsuit are not on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.

He said last July 6, Ramsey moved the federal court to enter a default judgment against the CNMI government, CHCC, and other co-defendants.

Zarones said that suspending all proceedings is appropriate because “a federal district court and a court of appeals should not attempt to assert jurisdiction over a case simultaneously.”

Ramsey, through counsel Stephen Woodruff, opposes the motion to suspend proceedings.

The other defendants in the case are CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña, CHCC Medical Affairs director Dr. John Doyle, and former Department of Public Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez.

Ramsey is demanding damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs.

According to Woodruff, the doctor is entitled to an injunction prohibiting the defendants from refusing to recognize his valid hospital privileges at CHCC.

Ramsey is a physician and surgeon specializing in obstetrics, gynecology, and women’s health. He first came to work on Saipan in April 1999. He was first licensed by the CNMI Healthcare Professions Licensing Board in 1999.

He worked at the Commonwealth Health Center for eight years, from 1999 to July 2007. Thereafter, for two and a half years, he worked for the Department of Public Health as medical director of the Wise Women Village project, a federal grant program until September 2010.

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

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