IMPERIAL Pacific International LLC, Pacific Rim Land Development LLC, and the CNMI Department of Finance-Division of Tax and Revenue, through their respective attorneys, have asked the federal court for an order approving the release of $2.47 in escrow funds.
The escrow funds were originally placed with Security Title to cover personal injuries or property damage involving Tower Crane Four, which was erected on IPI’s property and swung over the property of several neighboring businesses.
The parties are asking the court to issue an order removing a previous writ of execution, vacate a previous stipulated order for settlement, and amend another previous court order denying writ applications.
On Sept. 20, 2019, Pacific Rim, through attorney Colin Thompson, sued IPI for breach of contract for refusing to pay for construction services in the amount of $5.65 million.
On April 27, 2020, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI entered judgment in favor of Pacific Rim in the amount of $5.65 million against IPI.
On May 28, 2020, Judge Manglona amended the judgment to increase the amount to $6,909,333.43.
IPI, represented by attorney Michael Dotts, appealed the judgment on May 21, 2020. The appeal remains pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
IPI was unable to obtain a supersedeas or an appeal bond to prevent execution on the judgment while its appeal is pending noted.
On or about July 13, 2020, Pacific Rim collected $1,383,869.45 by way of a writ of execution issued by the court. The balance owing on the judgment was then approximately $5,525,363.98, not including post-judgment fees, costs, interest and damages for delay that may be awarded.
On June 10, 2020, the court issued a second order for issuance of writs of execution, granting Pacific Rim’s application for a writ for execution against certain IPI funds held by Security Title Inc. as an escrow agent.
Security Title then initiated an impleader action in CNMI Superior Court where it deposited $2,470,051.93 in an escrow account on June 17, 2020.
On Aug. 20, 2020, the Department of Finance-Division of Revenue and Taxation, through Assistant Attorney General Dustin Rollins, filed and recorded its notice of tax lien against all property of IPI in the amount of $9,416,887.09.
On Sept. 16, 2020, Finance and Pacific Rim entered into an agreement to divide the escrow funds between themselves once Tower Crane Four was safely removed.
Based on the agreement between Finance and Pacific Rim, Judge Manglona issued an order on Sept. 17, 2020 approving the division of the funds between Pacific Rim and Finance.
But the judge denied Pacific Rim’s motion for an order for turnover, assignment, and judicial sale of IPI’s gaming machines and heavy equipment and vehicles; and to seize money in IPI’s cage, for the purpose of reducing the previous judgment amount entered against IPI.
In her order establishing security pending appeal, Judge Manglona said Pacific International Property Management LLC or PIPM resolved to place $5,525,363.98 within the absolute discretion of the court for the purpose of securing a stay, and paying on the judgment in the event that Pacific Rim prevails in the appeal.
The judge also noted that PIPM has increased the amount to be deposited to $5,599,975 to cover post-judgment fees, costs and interest.
The fund will be available in full for return to PIPM only if IPI prevails in the appeal.
Judge Manglona directed Pacific Rim to take no action to execute or enforce judgment. “This includes, without limitation, the filing of a writ of execution to remove funds from any bank accounts of IPI and the forced sale of assets of IPI through an auction,” the judge added.
According to the stipulation, on Feb. 18, 2021, the removal of Tower Crane Four was completed, which would allow the release of the tower crane funds.
IPI and Finance have agreed to the release of the escrow funds, but "the second writ and the order approving the stipulation still, arguably, restrict the release of the Escrow Funds. Under said Stipulation and Order Pacific Rim remains entitled to approximately 80% of the Escrow Funds."
The parties stated that because “the second writ was not cancelled by the Nov. 6, 2020 order, and because the order approving the stipulation remains an order of this court, the parties are concerned that if they proceed with the release of the Escrow Funds now that they will be in violation of the order approving the stipulation.”
The parties are now requesting the court to order the following:
1) Deny the second writ of execution that allowed Pacific Rim to seize IPI funds held by Security Title Inc.
2) Set aside or vacate the stipulation and order of settlement between the CNMI government and Pacific Rim.
3) Vacate the order granting the stipulation of settlement between the CNMI government and Pacific Rim.