U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied yesterday without prejudice Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s request to shorten the time to hear IPI’s motion to stay or suspend execution of the court’s $6.8-million judgment in favor of IPI’s former contractor pending resolution of IPI’s appeal of that ruling.
Denial without prejudice means the court does not prohibit IPI from raising the same issue in the future. Shortening time refers to a court’s order in response to a motion of a party to a lawsuit that allows setting a legal matter at a time shorter than provided by court rules.
IPI, through counsel Michael W. Dotts, filed last Friday a notice of motion to shorten time.
In denying the motion, Manglona said IPI’s request is not a stipulation and contains no statement certifying IPI’s efforts to resolve the dispute without court action.
Manglona reminded Dotts that he must contact the District Court’s clerk’s office by telephone and email when requesting immediate court action to avoid calendaring conflicts.
IPI is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reverse Manglona’s order last April 23 for IPI to pay its former contractor, Pacific Rim Land Development LLC, $6.8 million, including the principal amount of $5.65 million, for breach of contract.
Pacific Rim, which claims that IPI owes it payment for the work it did on the casino project, is suing IPI and five unnamed alleged co-conspirators for breach of contract (construction and promissory note), and unjust enrichment.
Last Friday, Pacific Rim said it will be able to begin collecting from IPI on the partial summary judgment of $6.8 million, unless the District Court grants IPI’s motion to stay proceedings pending appeal.
Dotts said denying the stay will not just force IPI to shut down but will also leave 1,066 people on Saipan jobless.
According to court records, Pacific Rim and IPI entered into a construction contract on Feb. 13, 2018 for the Pacific Rim to build a hotel-casino complex in Garapan, but Pacific Rim eventually stopped work, saying that IPI did not pay it the amounts owed under the contract.
IPI has filed counterclaims against Pacific Rim for promissory fraud, fraud in the inducement as to the promissory note, violation of Consumer Protection Act, and breach of contract.
Last March 17, IPI shut down its casino to comply with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ directive due to the COVID-19 pandemic.