Judge issues ruling favorable to former IPI contractor

Judge says she will also issue order on mechanic’s lien issue

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has issued a ruling favorable to a contractor who is suing Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC for alleged non-payment of $5.65 million in construction services.

At a hearing held via video conference last Thursday, Manglona denied IPI’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by its former contractor, Pacific Rim Land Development LLC.

According to the minutes of the hearing, Manglona also granted Pacific Rim’s motion for summary judgment as to its claim for breach of promissory note.

The judge ordered Pacific Rim’s counsel, Colin Thompson, to submit a proposal by April 9 with respect to fees and interest that IPI is liable to pay. IPI counsel Joseph Horey was ordered to respond no later than April 23. Thompson was also ordered to prepare and submit to the court for review a proposed order for summary judgment.

Manglona also stated that she has reconsidered the submission of a certified question with respect to the mechanic’s lien issue and instead will issue an order on Pacific Rim’s lien application.

Pacific Rim is suing IPI and five unnamed alleged co-conspirators for breach of contract (construction and promissory note), and unjust enrichment. Pacific Rim claimed to have substantially completed or completed the agreed-upon construction work on Sept. 30, 2018.

Thompson said the unpaid amount that is owed Pacific Rim is $5.65 million but it wants to collect from IPI approximately $10 million in damages that would be proven at trial. Pacific Rim also filed an application for a mechanic’s lien on IPI’s hotel-casino project and on the land that it sits on. A mechanic’s lien refers to a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property.

In IPI’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Horey asserted that there was no mediation yet prior to the filing of the suit and therefore the federal court should dismiss the case. Horey said the mediation that was contractually required as a condition before litigation did not take place prior to Pacific Rim instigating the lawsuit, and has not taken place since.

Horey asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit until such time the parties have attempted to resolve the dispute through mediation.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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