On Dec. 23, 2016, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Kalayaan, Inc. v. Chris G. Imbo, 2016 MP 16, granting Chris G. Imbo’s motion to dismiss Kalayaan, Inc.’s appeal.
In 2014, Kalayaan filed a complaint against Imbo for a breach of contract. Five-hundred and eighty-three days later, Kalayaan served Imbo the summons and complaint. Relying on NMI Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m), Imbo moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to timely serve, and his motion was granted by the trial court. Kalayaan appealed the dismissal, arguing that the trial court misapplied Rule 4(m), and refiled the complaint in the trial court.
Imbo moved to dismiss Kalayaan’s appeal, arguing that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction because the trial court’s order was not a final order, and because Kalayaan’s appeal was mooted because the original complaint was refiled in the trial court.
Because the trial court relied on Rule 4(m) and dismissed the action, not merely the complaint, the Supreme Court found that the trial court’s order was a final order and the high court did have jurisdiction to hear Kalayaan’s appeal. However, because Kalayaan refiled the same complaint in the trial court, the Supreme Court determined that the issue was moot on appeal, noting a finding in favor of Kalayaan would “put Kalayaan where it stands now, with an exact duplicate of the case and complaint already proceeding in trial court.” To do so, the high court found, would “be nonsensical.” The high court thus granted Imbo’s motion to dismiss on the grounds of mootness.
The Supreme Court’s full opinion is available at http://www.cnmilaw.org/supreme16.html. (NMI Judiciary)