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Judge grants law firm’s motion to withdraw as IPI counsel in 2 of 3 lawsuits

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DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has granted the motion of the O’Connor Berman Horey & Banes or OBHB law firm to withdraw as counsel of Imperial Pacific International from two pending civil litigations, but denied the request of the legal office to withdraw from another case involving IPI.

OBHB represents IPI in the lawsuits filed by Pacific Rim Land Development LLC, which accuses IPI of breach of promissory note in the amount of $5.65 million, and USA Fanter, which sued IPI for breach of contract and defamation.

At the status conference on May 22, Judge Manglona granted the motion of the legal firm to withdraw as counsel for IPI from the Pacific Rim lawsuit and the USA Fanter defamation lawsuit.

Judge Manglona also required IPI to seek new counsel in two weeks, or by June 5, 2020, saying that there will be consequences if no counsel makes an appearance.

The judge denied, however, the motion of the law office to withdraw as counsel for IPI in the USA Fanter breach of promissory note lawsuit. The bench trial has already been scheduled for June 24, 2020.

Both plaintiffs are represented by attorney Colin Thompson who cited the “sensitive juncture of the case” as he asked the court to deny withdrawal request of OBHB until the law firm provides a compelling reason; a new counsel  prepared to take over the case makes an appearance; and a legitimate plan for meeting the court deadlines [is in place].

Moreover, Thompson said, the court should require IPI to post a cash bond in the amount of $2,089,000 for delaying the trial.

He said the court should also issue “an unequivocal warning, that a proposed change of counsel will in no way justify any delay and IPI must meticulously comply with each and every aspect of the court’s order or it will face severe sanctions.”

Regarding the Pacific Rim lawsuit, Thompson reiterated the same objection: a substituting attorney must first make an appearance before the court grants the withdrawal request.

In the defamation lawsuit, USA Fanter is represented by attorney Samuel Mok who also opposes the OBHB motion for withdrawal.

Mok said the granting of the IPI counsel’s motion to withdraw “should be conditioned on the filing of substitution of IPI or in the alternative the inclusion of a warning of the possible consequences of its failure to retain new counsel.”

At the status conference hearing, attorney Michael Dotts appeared for IPI. IPI vice president Tao Xing was also present.

Dotts told the court that he will be representing IPI in its appeal in the finding of breach of promissory note in the Pacific Rim lawsuit. He also said that a motion of stay will be filed in the pending litigation.

Attorneys Cong Nie and Joseph Horey appeared for the OBHB firm.

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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