Finding the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s arguments to be without basis and unpersuasive, Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman yesterday denied CUC’s motion to reconsider his earlier ruling that denied the request to dismiss a taxpayer and class action lawsuit filed by Carmen Gaskins and others regarding an alleged overpayment by CUC customers for three months in 2006.4
In denying CUC’s motion to reconsider, Wiseman also ordered CUC to respond within 10 days from yesterday to Gaskin’s and co-plaintiffs’ third amended complaint.
Wiseman, however, amended a paragraph of his earlier ruling “in the interest of clarity,” saying he recognizes that the language used may be confusing.
In CUC’s motion for reconsideration, attorney James S. Sirok argued that the court clearly erred when it appeared to issue findings that Gaskins and co-plaintiffs have already certified their class action suit and that plaintiffs are named as class representatives.
Sirok also argued that manifest injustice would result if the court does not grant its motion to dismiss on the issue of whether plaintiffs alleged that CUC made expenditures that were not for a public purpose.
Regarding CUC’s first argument about clear error, Wiseman said he finds it to be without basis considering that his Oct. 21, 2014, order denying the motion to dismiss issues no finding of fact.
Wiseman said he explained in his Oct. 21 order that, at the pleadings stage, plaintiffs’ allegations are assumed to be true.
Pertaining to CUC’s second argument on manifest injustice, the judge noted that CUC does not explain how manifest injustice would result from a court’s finding that it is possible that with the appropriate development of facts—a court could find in favor of plaintiffs.
Gaskins’ co-plaintiffs are Milagros S. Palacios, Saipan Ice and Water Co. Inc., Jacques Kirby, Florence Kirby, and Saipan Aquaculture. In their complaint filed in 2009, the plaintiffs alleged a taxpayer and class action suit against CUC and the CNMI government. They later amended the complaint twice.
CUC then filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The CNMI government also joined in CUC’s motion to dismiss.
In his Oct. 21 order, Wiseman determined that plaintiffs have alleged enough facts to indicate that the funds spent were in fact public funds.