Widow, daughter ask court to declare man a vexatious litigant


A widow and her daughter are asking the Superior Court to declare John Sablan Pangelinan a vexatious litigant, just as the U.S. District Court for the NMI and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit have already done.

Secundina Untalan Pangelinan and her daughter, Selina Marie Pangelinan, though their counsel, Janet H. King, said that John Pangelinan filed 11 motions to reconsider a previous court ruling, yet John Pangelinan does not present any new evidence, changes to law, or any need to correct any clear error or prevent any manifest injustice.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho is set to hear the 11 motions on Dec. 2, 2019.

A vexatious litigant is someone who uses the judiciary system solely to harass or subdue an opponent, such as filing frivolous lawsuit or repetitive motions that have no merit.

Secundina and Selina Pangelinan are suing John Pangelinan for allegedly abusing the legal system to extort money from them by interfering with a probate matter, although he is not a creditor.

John Pangelinan then filed a libel counterclaim, alleging that the lawsuit filed by Secundina and Selina Pangelinan slanders and maliciously badmouths him.

In April 2018, Camacho dismissed John Pangelinan’s libel counterclaim against Segundina and Selina Pangelinan.

Camacho ruled that statements made by an attorney during the course of a case, including “all pleadings and affidavits necessary to set the judicial machinery in motion,” are absolutely privileged.

In the same order, Camacho dismissed John Pangelinan’s counterclaims for quiet title and abuse of process.

John Pangelinan then filed 11 motions for the court to reconsider the previous ruling.

In Segundina and Selina’s opposition to the 11 motions filed last week, King said that, although each motion is styled slightly different, they all ask the court to reconsider issues that have already been thoroughly litigated and decided, once again wasting the court’s time, taxpayer dollars, and the time and money of opposing counsel.

“Because these motions raise no new issues of law or fact, they should be denied,” King said.

The lawyer said the 11 motions are emblematic of John Pangelinan’s vexatious litigation tactics and illustrate why Secundina and Selina Pangelinan were forced to file the lawsuit against him.

King said Secundina and Selina Pangelinan filed the lawsuit after John Pangelinan repeatedly abused the justice system during the probate proceedings of the estate of Secundina Pangelinan’s husband and Selina Pangelinan’s father.

King said that, in that lawsuit, John Pangelinan filed over two dozen frivolous motions, declarations, objections, petitions and claims in the probate proceeding—all of which were denied by the Superior Court—in an effort to force the plaintiffs to pay him money to which he was clearly not entitled.

King said his 11 motions for reconsideration make it apparent that he is continuing to litigate this lawsuit in much the same manner as he did the probate action—by filing multiple frivolous motions that waste judicial resources and cause plaintiffs to incur unnecessary legal fees in the preparation of responses.

King said that, as the U.S. Supreme Court had noted, “pro se litigants have a greater capacity than most to disrupt the fair allocation of judicial resources because they are often not subject to financial considerations…that deter other litigants from filing frivolous petitions.”

In this case, King said, John Pangelinan’s numerous and frivolous filings have once again wasted everyone’s time.

King said although John Pangelinan alleges in each filing that he has suffered “manifest injustice,” he offers no support for this assertion other than his simple disagreement with how the court ruled originally.

King said John Pangelinan spends over 100 pages setting forth the same arguments that have already been heard and decided and then arguing that this court’s decision were manifestly unjust because they were not decided in his favor.

“In courts of law, litigants are not entitled to unlimited bites of the proverbial apple,” the lawyer said.

In June 2008, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood declared John Pangelinan a vexatious litigant and prohibited him from filing any lawsuit or documents in federal court related to a 1997 civil lawsuit filed against him.

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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