Law firm’s bid to withdraw as IPI counsel opposed


Two former contractors of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC are opposing a law firm’s bid to withdraw as counsel for IPI in connection with their three lawsuits against IPI in federal court.

The former IPI contractors—Pacific Rim Land Development LLC and U.S.A. Fanter Corp. Ltd.—pointed out through their lawyer, Colin M. Thompson, that the law firm of O’Connor Berman Horey and Banes only gave a hint of the reasons they wish to withdraw as counsel for IPI in the lawsuits.

Thompson said Thursday last week that the law firm should provide a compelling reason, a new counsel that is prepared to take over the case, and a legitimate plan for meeting the court’s deadlines, or the court to deny the law firm’s request.

Thompson said that in Pacific Rim’s lawsuit, the case has pending responses to IPI’s counterclaims due and Pacific Rim has upcoming post-judgment motions they intend to file in the coming weeks.

Thompson said the O’Connor law firm’s motion does not satisfy their burden to show good cause to withdraw from the case. He pointed out that the only hint given by the law firm in its motion is a citation from the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct stating that “professional considerations require termination of the representation.”

“This statement is wholly insufficient as a reason for withdrawal,” the lawyer said.

Citing precedent, Thompson said courts refuse to grant a withdrawal motion where no explanation is provided or the justification is dubious, even where the client terminated the attorney.

He said the motion should be denied because withdrawal will prejudice Pacific Rim and U.S.A. Fanter and harm the administration of justice.

Thompson said regardless of how the motion is decided, the court should issue an unequivocal warning that this proposed change of counsel will in no way justify any delay and that IPI must comply with each and every aspect of the court’s orders or it will face severe sanctions.

Attorney Cong Nie, who is a member of the O’Connor law firm, asked the court to withdraw the law firm as counsel for IPI in the lawsuits, saying that professional considerations warrant the withdrawal.

If the court needs additional information as to the basis for the withdrawal, Nie said the O’Connor law firm asks the court to permit the firm to submit confidential client information under seal.

Pacific Rim is suing IPI and five unnamed alleged co-conspirators for failing to pay it $5.65 million in work done at the casino. It is demanding approximately $10 million in damages. 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.

U.S.A. Fanter is suing IPI for issuing statements published in two newspapers that allegedly contained libelous statements. It asked the court to hold IPI liable to pay unspecified damages. The company also asked the court to require IPI to make a public retraction of the statements at issue. U.S.A. Fanter also sued IPI for allegedly refusing to pay $2.08 million for construction work related to the VIP wing and exterior work of IPI’s hotel-casino currently being constructed in Garapan. U.S.A. Fanter asked the court to attach mechanic’s lien to IPI’s interests in the real property on the project.

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

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