Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 17 Jul 2019 12am







    Tuesday, July 16, 2019-2:48:29P.M.






Font Size


Ninth Circuit affirms district court ruling in late mayor’s lawsuit against bank

THE District Court for the NMI’s ruling on the estate of former Saipan Mayor Donald Flores’s lawsuit against a bank was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit judges denied the request of Derron G. Flores, the former mayor’s son, to substitute him as plaintiff in the lawsuit that his late mother filed against the Union Bank of California.

The appellate judges agreed with Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona that Cecilia Flores’ tort claims were extinguished once she died.

Mrs. Flores initially filed the lawsuit in Superior Court, but it was moved to the federal court.

Mrs. Flores sued Union Bank and two of its former employees over a bank manager’s alleged unauthorized release of Donald Flores’ certificate of deposit worth $200,000 several years prior to his death.

Mrs. Flores alleged that Union Bank fraudulently “allowed an impostor to redeem [the] 1993 certificate of deposit and hid that fundamental material fact…all these years.”

While the lawsuit was pending, Mrs. Flores and her husband Donald Flores died.

Derron Flores, the son of the couple, wanted the court to substitute him as plaintiff in the case.

Judge Manglona in April 2016 denied Derron Flores’s request to substitute. She ruled that Mrs. Flores’ claims were extinguished when she died in September 2015. Judge Manglona also dismissed Mrs. Flores’ lawsuit.

Derron Flores, through attorney Juan T. Lizama, appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

In Nov. 2017, federal jurors unanimously found  that there was no breach of contract between Union Bank and the former mayor of Saipan. The jury, however, determined that Donald Flores and Union Bank entered into a contract.

During the trial, Union Bank was represented by attorneys Sean Frink and Catherine Cachero.

The Ninth Circuit judges cited the CNMI Supreme Court’s ruling in Indalencio v. Yarofalir.

“In the Indalencio case, the court interpreted the Commonwealth Code, which provides for the survival of tort claims upon the tortfeasor’s death, but does not speak to the survival of claims where the tort victim dies.”

The court “assume[d] that the Legislature’s silence here was not an oversight, but a calculated decision,” and ruled that “the NMI has no statute which preserves a tort victim’s after his death,” the appellate judges added.

“The Indalecio ruling makes clear that Cecilia Flores’ tort claims did not survive her death, and that they are bound by that decision.”

The Ninth Circuit judges said Derron Flores’ attempt to distinguish Indalecio is unavailing. They said Indalecio’s interpretation of CNMI law is not limited to wrongful death torts or injuries to the person.