Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio vacated on Friday her writ of execution order and directed the court’s Marshal Service Division to return to Mode Tour Saipan its limousine and two buses parked in the court’s parking lot.
Following the order, Mode Tour Saipan on Friday afternoon took back their three vehicles—a Lincoln Town Car with license plate ACG-547 and two Ford E-450 Super Duty with license plates BUS-275 and BUS-1263.
The Marshal Service Division seized the three vehicles last April 30, along with a 2013 Toyota Sienna van, pursuant to Kim-Tenorio’s order in connection with a court’s jury verdict that found the company and its parent company in South Korea liable to pay $2.3 million in damages to the widow and estate of a Korean tourist who drowned during a cliff fishing tour at Dump Coke on Tinian in 2008.
The Marshal Service brought the four vehicles to the parking lot of the Judiciary complex in Susupe.
In that writ, Kim-Tenorio also ordered the Marshal Service to sell the vehicles for the benefit of plaintiffs Jung Su An, Eun Ju Jun, and Ho Chan Jung.
At an emergency hearing last Wednesday, May 6, Kim-Tenorio ordered the release of the van and the removal from the court’s parking lot of the limousine and the two buses.
The judge ordered the return of the van to its registered owner, Soon Hwa Kim, after she showed proof that she owns the van and not Mode Tour.
In her order on Friday, Kim-Tenorio ordered that all properties and assets seized in levying the writ of execution be returned to its former owners and possessors as if the applications for writs were never issued by the court.
Kim-Tenorio ordered the Marshal Service Division to return the three vehicles to their registered owners by the end of the day on Friday.
On Thursday, Kim-Tenorio denied the plaintiffs’ application for writ of execution. Attorney Colin Thompson filed the application last Tuesday, May 5, as counsel for plaintiffs.
Kim-Tenorio said the plaintiffs’ proposed writs of execution do not comply with the law.
“Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with the court’s orders by May 8, 2015 at 12pm, will leave the court no choice but to vacate all pending writs of execution as issued in this matter,” Kim-Tenorio said.
In addition, she noted that several concerns regarding the writs of execution as currently issued raised at the emergency hearing on May 5 were not incorporated in the instant application.
For example, the judge said, plaintiffs erroneously claim that they are entitled to judgment up to $2.1 million from Mode Tour Saipan Corp.
Kim-Tenorio said in her order, the fault assigned to decedent was at the percentage of 20 percent and therefore reducing the damages award accordingly.
In plaintiffs’ application for a writ last May 5, Thompson asked the court to issue the writ of execution against Mode Tour Saipan’s personal bank accounts and the company’s vehicles.
Thompson said as of March 19, 2015, Mode Tour Saipan Corp. and Mode Tour Network Inc. have failed to make any payments toward the $2.1 million in damages.
Last Feb. 4, jurors reached a unanimous verdict, finding Mode Tour Network Inc. and Mode Tour Saipan Corporation negligent, causing the accidental death of Hoseung Jung.
The jurors attributed 90 percent of fault to Mode Tour Network Inc. and 10 percent fault to Mode Tour Saipan Corp.
The jurors awarded $500,000 to Jung’s mother, Jung Su An, for mental pain and suffering. They awarded $1.8 million to Jung’s estate for pecuniary injury.
Kim-Tenorio presided over the trial. Thompson served as counsel for mother Jung Su An, widow Eun Ju Jun, and brother Ho Chan Jung, who served as personal representative of the decedent.
The plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action and for negligent infliction of emotional distress on the part of the widow against Mode Tour Network Inc., Mode Tour Saipan Corp., and Jae Min Corporation.
Thompson stated in the complaint that in December 2008, Jun and her husband Joung traveled to the CNMI to spend their honeymoon following their wedding in Korea.
Thompson said through their consultation with Mode Tour Network, the couple booked a cliff fishing tour when they visited Tinian. The tour guides took the couple and six other Korean tourists to a site popularly called Dump Coke, a fishing area located at a remote and rural part of Tinian, where Jung accidentally drowned.
In defendants Mode Tour Network’s and Mode Tour Saipan’s documents filed in court, attorney Thomas Clifford said Mode Tour Network Inc. is merely a wholesaler of package tours in Korea, and that it’s only connection to the accident is that it sold a tour package that included a visit to Tinian.
Clifford said Mode Tour Network did not sell the optional tour to the couple and it would never have received any money from their decision on Tinian to participate in the optional tour.