NMI govt settles with Guerrero


The CNMI government has settled a lawsuit filed by former Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board chair Francisco Q. Guerrero against seven Department of Corrections officers that he sued over the injuries he suffered when an inmate allegedly beat him up inside DOC.

The parties in Guerrero’s lawsuit asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday to dismiss the case with prejudice following their negotiated settlement. That means Guerrero could no longer re-file his lawsuit.

The parties informed the court that they want to dismiss all the claims in Guerrero’s lawsuit and that each party shall bear its own attorney’s fees and costs. The terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed.

Guerrero represented himself in the case. He agreed to the dismissal of the case. The other signatories in the agreement are Office of the Attorney General Civil Division chief Christopher M. Timmons and assistant attorney general Michael L. Ernest.

Timmons is counsel for the CNMI and defendants in their official capacities. Ernest is counsel for defendants in their personal capacities.

Last September, the U.S. marshal or deputy marshal served the summons and complaint to the seven defendants in their personal capacities: DOC officers Joaquin Sablan, Manuela Guerrero, Rachel Rebuenog, Jose Castro, Lynnae Cabrera, Eloy Dela Cruz, and Keith Lizama.

The summons and complaint were served after U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona found that Guerrero had stated an Eight Amendment claim in his complaint against the seven prison officials for failure to protect him from violence at the hands of another prisoner.

Manglona gave Guerrero permission to file a second amended complaint by Aug. 2, 2019, to cure deficiencies in his claims against seven other prison officials and his request for injunctive relief.

Guerrero, however, failed to file the second amended complaint.

Last July, Manglona dismissed Guerrero’s amended lawsuit against seven current and former DOC officials and employees.

Manglona ruled that Guerrero, who is also an inmate, failed to state a claim against seven other defendants—former DOC commissioner Vince Attao, pretrial director Jose K. Pangelinan, captain Pius Yaroitemal, shift supervisor Romualdo Teregeyo Jr., and Professional Standard Unit officers Fred Billy, Marvin Seman, and Leanna P. Quitugua.

Guerrero is serving a six-year prison term for sexual abuse of a girl.

Guerrero alleged that inmate John Kileleman, who is mentally ill, beat him up when he tried to pacify him from beating another inmate in DOC last Jan. 14.

In April 2019, Guerrero filed his original complaint against 14 DOC officials and Kileleman.

Guerrero then filed his first amended complaint against seven defendants. He did not include Kileleman as defendant.

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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