U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said yesterday that there appear to be sufficient assets of Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino to fully compensate both plane crash survivors and Tinian Dynasty’s employees who worked for weeks without receiving pay.
Nevertheless, Manglona ruled that because CNMI Department of Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero cannot satisfy the requirements of intervention as a matter of right under Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it is ordered that her motion to intervene into the lawsuit filed by two plane crash survivors is denied.
Last April, Manglona ordered Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investment Ltd., owner of Tinian Dynasty, to pay $1.4 million to plane survivors Tomoyuki Nagata and Dr. Jun Takimoto and his family to satisfy their settlement agreements.
DeLeon Guerrero moved to intervene into the plane survivors’ lawsuit because she is worried that Manglona’s previous order could impede Labor’s ability to collect the remaining $416,24137 in judgment for liquidated damages against Tinian Dynasty for non-payment of wages to its employees.
The order that the Labor secretary was referring to was Manglona’s March 10, 2016, order to HKE to refrain from selling or transferring any of its property assets, except in the normal course of business. She issued the order following the request of Nagata and Takimoto.
Nagata and Takimoto were among the seven passengers of a Piper Cherokee aircraft that crashed on a farm in Upper Dandan en route to Tinian on Aug. 11, 2006. HKE settled the lawsuits filed by the survivors, including one filed by Takimoto and his family, and Nagata.
In a written order issued yesterday that denied DeLeon Guerrero’s motion, Manglona said because DeLeon Guerrero’s case does not relate to the “property or transaction that is the subject of the action,” intervention must be denied.
Manglona said as a matter of law, the Labor secretary is not entitled to relief, but the court is mindful that its injunction on HKE’s payments not in the normal course must be subject to equitable considerations.
The judge said presently, based on the representations of the secretary and the plane crash survivors, it appears that there will only be a brief delay between full payment to one set of victims and full payment to the other.
Manglona said such a brief delay in full payment is an ordinary circumstance insufficient to invoke equity; neither party expects that HKE will find itself unable to pay.
“To be clear, should the ordinary delay in resolving the judgment become extraordinary, or should other events make the injunction function as a tool of expression rather than justice, the court remains open to future motions for modification,” she said.