IN OBSTRUCTION OF ACCESS TO ESTABLISHMENTS’ SITES CASE
Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three establishments in western Garapan who are suing Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC for allegedly obstructing access to their sites and affecting their operations.
In an order on Wednesday that denied IPI’s motion to dismiss, Kim-Tenorio ruled that the court has jurisdiction over the matter since the Division of Coastal Resources Management lacks the authority or the ability to give the three establishments with the relief they are seeking.
The three companies—American Herbal Essence Group, American Create Beauty Corp., and American Dongsheng Corp., through counsel Robert T. Torres—are suing IPI for private nuisance and tortious interference with prospective business advantage. Tortious interference refers to an act of intentionally interfering with someone’s business.
The plaintiffs are lessees of a commercial space on Coral Tree Avenue across IPI’s casino/resort.
They alleged that on Dec. 20, 2018, IPI began extensive excavation of a large portion of Coral Tree Avenue that extended near their leased premises. IPI allegedly dug a 2-foot-deep trench and posted detour signs redirecting foot and vehicular traffic away from the entrance to the plaintiffs’ leased premises.
Kim-Tenorio said that IPI’s motion to dismiss this claim is denied because the plaintiffs have presented a “cognizable legal theory” in its nuisance claim. Kim-Tenorio said the plaintiffs have alleged facts that, when viewed in light most favorable to them, establish that IPI interfered with their business prospects.
The judge also denied IPI’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ demand for payment of punitive damages.
She said because IPI failed to provide facts establishing DCRM as a necessary party to his case, IPI’s motion to dismiss this matter is denied.
With the court’s ruling, Torres said Thursday that American Herbal Essence looks forward to its case against IPI. Torres said American Herbal Essence has stated its causes of action for the harm occasioned by IPI’s overreaching in its project.
Torres said their view is that a CRM permit does not give one permission to harm and be a nuisance to adjacent owners’ interests despite a major siting permit and written complaints to CRM/Department of Public Works and Division of Environmental Quality.
“We will prosecute this action and proceed,” the lawyer said.
Plaintiffs alleged that IPI’s continued obstruction in the area has exponentially affected their use of its leased premises, including the operation of its restaurant and retail business.
The plaintiffs alleged that this resulted in economic loss and has further frustrated and impacted their contractual relationship with their landlord.
IPI, through counsel Michael Dotts, filed a motion to dismiss the case last Dec. 16, saying the court lacks jurisdiction over the case since the plaintiffs failed to exhaust all available administrative remedies.
Dotts argued that plaintiffs failed to plead all of the necessary elements of a nuisance claim, and a claim of tortious interference with prospective advantage.
IPI’s counsel also argued that plaintiffs failed to establish all elements necessary to support a request for punitive damages.
IPI further alleged a defense of plaintiffs’ failure to join the DCRM as a necessary defendant.
The defendants, through Torres, opposed the motion.
Kim-Tenorio heard the motion last Feb. 25.