A female motorist has filed a lawsuit against the Saipan Mayor’s Office, one of its employees, and the CNMI government after one of the Saipan Mayor’s Office’s heavy equipment machines collided with her car in February 2021.
Emeelourd Udani, through David Banes, is suing the Saipan Mayor’s office, employee Mariano Aguon, and the CNMI government after a heavy equipment that Aguon was driving allegedly backed into her car.
Udani presented her claim to the Commonwealth government through the Office of the Attorney General, alleging negligence on the defendants’ part prior to filing her lawsuit.
However, on July 8, 2022, the AG’s office informed Udani that her claim was denied, claiming that employees of the mayor’s office are not employees of the Commonwealth government within the meaning of the Government Liability Act.
According to Banes, though, the court held in Fleming v. Office of the Mayor of Saipan, Civil Case No. 14- 0147 that employees of the mayor’s office are employees of the Commonwealth government.
“The mayor’s office is named as a co-defendant in the event that Aguon is not an employee of the Commonwealth government, while the Commonwealth government is named as a co-defendant in the event that Aguon is a Commonwealth employee covered by the Government Liability Act,” he said.
According to the complaint, Udani was driving on a public road in Chalan Kiya south of Saipan Health Clinic to pick up her son from Green Meadow School on Feb. 12, 2021, at around 3pm. At that time, Aguon, an employee of the Saipan Mayor’s Office, was driving a heavy equipment on the same public road in front of Udani.Aguon was in the Chalan Kiya area with co-workers conducting a cleanup along the public road.Like Udani, Aguon was heading in the direction of GMS.
As a result, Udani followed Aguon’s heavy equipment at a distance.But when Aguon was near GMS, he suddenly reversed the heavy equipment and backed up toward Udani. Aguon did not notice Udani’s vehicle behind him.
According to her lawsuit, Udani immediately started honking and shouting in order to get Aguon’s attention, but he still did not notice Udani’s vehicle and kept reversing.
As a result, the heavy equipment backed into the front of Udani’s vehicle, and the claw of the heavy equipment struck her vehicle.
The collision seriously damaged Udani’s vehicle, including leaving a heavy dent on its hood and destroying its headlight.
Udani claims that the collision also caused her severe emotional distress.
In addition, at the time of the collision, Udani was not yet the record owner of her vehicle as she was buying it from a third party and was following a payment schedule.
As a result of the accident, the vehicle needed significant repairs, which essentially caused Udani to lose the use of the vehicle and the payments she had already made to buy it, the complaint said.