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Last updateSat, 21 Sep 2019 12am







    Friday, September 20, 2019-6:09:03P.M.






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Casino commission opposes IPI’s remand motion

THE lawsuit of Imperial Pacific International and its subsidiaries, Grand Mariana and Imperial Pacific Properties, does not involve an interpretation of the casino license agreement, Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Petersburg told the federal court.

Petersburg, who represents the Commonwealth Casino Commission, said the casino license agreement “is completely silent as to matters of confidentiality generally and is absolutely silent as to [the] commission’s responsibility to release unredacted audited financial statements.”

Benjamin K. Petersburg

CCC is opposing IPI and its subsidiaries’ motion to remand their lawsuit against the commission to the CNMI Superior Court.

CCC earlier moved the lawsuit to the federal court after IPI’s subsidiaries alleged violation of due process rights.

IPI attorneys Viola Alepuyo and Philip Tydingco, in their motion to remand, stated that the record of the proceedings established that Commonwealth law-claims dominate the litigation.

“The principal focus of the case are IPI’s claims and not intervenors’ claims,” they added.

They said the local courts have not addressed the question of confidentiality and privacy relating to tax and financial information of IPI.

A resolution of the issue concerns the analysis and interpretation of the Open Government Act, CNMI tax laws, gaming law, and CNMI constitutional privacy rights, IPI’s lawyers stated.

They added that the Commonwealth’s constitutional privacy right is not similar to any provision of the U.S. Constitution and the Commonwealth judiciary has not addressed whether a corporation possesses a constitutional privacy right.

But according to Petersburg, the District Court for the NMI has jurisdiction over the federal questions presented and have supplemental jurisdiction over any other state law claims.

“Because transparency in casino regulation is not a sensitive area of social policy, resolution of state law issues will not obviate U.S. constitutional concerns, and the proper resolution of any state law issues is not uncertain, this court should not abstain and should exercise its jurisdiction over all claims.”

He asked the court to deny IPI’s motion for remand.

IPI and CCC are awaiting the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after IPI challenged the district court’s Aug. 6, 2019 order denying its petition for a preliminary injunction against the casino commission.

On Aug. 8, 2019, the Ninth Circuit issued a stay order temporarily stopping CCC from disclosing IPI’s audited financial statements.