IPI lawyer argues excusable neglect warrants vacating entry of default
Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the NMI requesting the court vacate its entry of default against it due to what is calls “excusable neglect.”
In the lawsuit filed against IPI by Winzy Corp., IPI counsel Juan T. Lizama asked the federal court to vacate the default judgment against his client because when an amended complaint was filed with the federal court, the receiver assumed that by sending the complaint out via group chat, someone would handle it, not knowing that IPI had no representation at the time and was struggling to hire a lawyer to represent them in new cases.
Lizama said the receiver’s mistaken assumption justifies as excusable neglect. “A client’s mistaken assumption that his attorney in other actions was addressing the matter at issue qualified as excusable neglect,” he said.
Lizama said that Winzy Corp. filed the summons and complaint in October 2020, during the time when IPI struggled to hire a lawyer to handle new cases against the company.
Remy Mafnas, IPI compliance administrator and the one who received the amended complaint, sent the amended complaint via group chat, assuming it would be taken care of.
“She only copied [the amended complaint to] everyone in her chat group…assuming that someone would take care of it. She was unaware that the District Court for the NMI had dismissed the original complaint on Dec. 17, 2020,” Lizama said.
Lizama reiterated that there is good cause to vacate the default due to Mafnas’ mistaken belief that the case was eventually going to be handled by an attorney.
In addition, Lizama argues that granting IPI’s request would not result in any prejudice to the plaintiff. However, if there is any prejudice to the plaintiff if the motion is granted, it could be alleviated by awarding the plaintiff the costs as a condition of vacating the default.
Winzy Corp, which is represented by attorney Mark Scoggins, is suing IPI for allegedly not paying for supervision and consulting services for the casino project back in 2020. IPI allegedly owes $162,925.