SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio has granted in part and denied in part the default judgement motion of American Herbal Essence Group, American Create Beauty Corp., and American Dongsheng Corp. against Imperial Pacific International LLC.

In a 26-page order on Wednesday, the judge granted default judgment on plaintiffs’ claim of private nuisance per accidens, but denied default judgment on plaintiffs’ claim of tortious interference with an existing contract.

A private nuisance is “caused by a person doing something on his own land, which he is lawfully entitled to do but which becomes a nuisance when the consequences of his act extend to the land of his neighbor by, for example, causing physical damage.”

Per accidens means “by chance or extraneous circumstance.”

As for tortious interference with contract, it occurs when the defendant intentionally and improperly interferes with the performance of a contract, between the plaintiff and a third person, by causing the third person not to perform the contract.

Judge Kim-Tenorio found that plaintiffs failed to show that IPI had intended to improperly interfere with plaintiffs’ lease agreements with their landlord. She said plaintiffs had not provided enough evidence of defendant’s improper motive, among other factors.

The three business establishments in Garapan sued IPI for allegedly blocking their way and affecting the operation of their businesses. They are located directly across from IPI’s casino resort construction project.

The three establishments filed a complaint against IPI in 2019 and sued it for private nuisance and tortious interference with prospective business advantage.

They are asking the court to issue an order finding IPI liable to pay them damages and court costs.

The companies are represented by attorney Robert T. Torres while IPI is represented by attorney Stephen Nutting. 

The plaintiffs, according to the lawsuit, leased commercial spaces on Coral Tree Avenue.

IPI on Dec. 20, 2018 began extensive excavation of a large portion of Coral Tree Avenue, which extended within close proximity to plaintiffs’ leased premises, their lawsuit stated.

IPI dug a two-foot-deep trench and posted detour signs redirecting foot and vehicular traffic away from the entrance of plaintiffs’ leased premises.

Later, IPI and its contractors redirected its construction to the main entrance of its casino and hotel and left behind the open trench, the lawsuit stated.

The plaintiffs said they complained to the Division of Coastal Resource Management, the Department of Public Works, the Division of Environmental Quality, and the Commonwealth Casino Commission about the road construction.

According to DCRM, IPI had been granted a major siting permit for the roadside construction, and that upon inspection of the construction site, it was determined that no permit violations had occurred.

DCRM said it would continue to monitor the work being performed by IPI.

On March 21, 2019, IPI finally completed its pavement repair work on Coral Tree Avenue and backfilled the trench, “yet it continues to obstruct the area by maintaining its detour signs, preventing access to the area,” the lawsuit stated.

Judge Kim-Tenorio has set a hearing for Dec. 14, 2021 at 9 a.m. to determine the amount of damages resulting from plaintiffs’ claim of private nuisance per accidens.

She also ordered the plaintiffs to submit evidence “reasonably related to loss of profits or other damages consequential to the loss of use and enjoyment of plaintiffs’ land, caused by defendant’s private nuisance per accidens.”

Reporter

Bryan Manabat studied criminal justice at Northern Marianas College. He covers the community, tourism, business, police and court beats.

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