Chief judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI has ruled in favour of the company.
Northern Mariana Islands.- Chief judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI has issued a ruling in favour of James Whang, the proprietor of South Pacific Lumber Company (SPLC). The case involved a lease dispute with the casino operator IPI. The ruling awards SPLC US$499,242.33 in damages.
In August, South Pacific Lumber Company sued IPI for non-payment of rent on commercial warehouse space. It’s been awarded US$431,861 in unpaid rent for the period spanning from June 1, 2021, to September 21, 2022, and US$67,381.33 in interest.
The court’s decision followed a bench trial conducted on January 11, 2023, where it determined IPI’s liability and violation of the Holdover Tenancy Act. A prior federal court ruling had granted SPLC a partial judgment of US$267,353 in damages along with post-judgment interest.
Judge Manglona’s order directs the clerk of court to record a judgment in favour of James Whang, amounting to US$766,595.33 in damages. This sum accounts for the period starting from March 2020 through September 21, 2022. and includes post-judgment interest at the federal rate specified in 28 U.S.C. § 1961, as well as attorney’s fees.
According to Mariana’s Variety, judge Manglona said: “IPI never made complaints about access which tends to show that SPLC’s intervention was not truly a constructive eviction; rather, IPI was always given access whenever requested. At most, the padlock that Mr. Whang put on one of the service doors was symbolic — a means to trigger IPI to begin paying its overdue balance.
“IPI was never actually or constructively evicted in light of its continued use and access to the Warehouse. Finding no constructive eviction, IPI became a holdover tenant when it failed to pay rent as required and demanded under the rental agreement, and failed to vacate the warehouse when SPLC demanded possession of the premises in July 2021.”