Judge voids order for company to vacate premises


Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has voided his default judgment that ordered a company that operates two restaurants at the LC Building in Garapan to vacate the premises for failing to answer a lawsuit over non-payment of rental.

In an order last week, Camacho granted China Yanbian Foreign Economic & Technical Cooperation Corp.’s motion to set aside the default judgment on Aug. 26.

Camacho determined that China Yanbian was not properly served with summons and complaint pursuant to the Holdover Tenancy Act.

Under the Holdover Tenancy Act, “the summons and complaint shall be served as provided by the rules of the court.”

Camacho said since China Yanbian was not properly served, the default judgment is void. Therefore, the judge said, the court has no jurisdiction over China Yanbian.

In that default judgment, Camacho found China Yanbian liable to pay LC Rental Company LLC $104,400, including the principal amount of $83,200, plus costs and attorneys’ fees in the amount of $1,222.

The default judgment also terminated the month-to-month lease between LC Rental Company LLC as lessor and China Yanbian as lessee.

The motion for a default judgment was held last Aug. 26, but only attorney Benjamin Petersburg appeared in court for LC Rental. No one appeared for China Yanbian.

China Yanbian operates Seoul One Restaurant and Shinsen Sushi Restaurant at the LC Building in Garapan. The company also rents an apartment unit on the third floor of the same building.

LC Rental manages the LC Building and is responsible for collecting monthly rental payments from tenants. China Yanbian allegedly does not have a written lease agreement with LC Rental.

Byung Deuk Lee is the president of China Yanbian. Byung Deuk Lee’s son, Sang Hun Lee, is the organizing member of LC Rental Company.

Sang Hun Lee was the manager of the two restaurants until March or April 2016, when Byung Deuk Lee removed him from China Yanbian, according to court documents.

According to court documents, San Hun Lee claimed that he is a member of LC Rental Company LLC, and an officer of China Yanbian.

Byung Deuk Lee is the same Korean businessman who was allegedly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and figured before in a legal dispute with some family members.

Last Sept. 22, China Yanbian, through counsel Colin Thompson, filed a motion to set aside the default judgment. LC Rental opposed the motion.

Camacho heard the motion last Sept. 30. Petersburg and Bruce Berline appeared as counsel for LC Rental.

Attorneys Janet H. King and Daniel Guidotti appeared as counsel for China Yanbian. Guidotti appeared for Thompson.

China Yanbian argued that the default judgment must be set aside since the company was not properly served with the summons and complaint.

LC Rental argued that China Yanbian was properly served pursuant to the Holdover Tenancy Act.

In granting the motion to set aside the default judgment, Camacho said only one attempt at service was made on July 21, 2016. He said the documents were merely given to waitress/cook Wu Shun Yu and were not posted in the premises.

Camacho said Yu does not have sufficient “authority with the organization” to be considered a “managing or general agent.”

The judge said the law requires at least two attempts at service prior to posting the summons and complaint, and since this was not done here, the requirements of the Holdover Tenancy Act were not met.

Camacho said after serving the summons and complaint by posting the documents at the premises, the landlord must then provide two pre-stamped envelops to the clerk of court, so that the documents can be mailed to the tenant.

“None of these additional steps were taken,” the judge noted.

LC Rental, Camacho said, simply attempted service one time at the premises and did not actually follow through with the rest of the steps required by the Holdover Tenancy Act. Thus, Camacho said, the additional requirements of the Holdover Tenancy Act were also not met.

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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