Acting Gov. Tenorio releases opinion on Davis versus Guam
On July 30, acting governor of Guam Joshua F. Tenorio released a statement regarding the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the case of Davis versus Guam, expressing disappointment with the Ninth Circuit’s ruling and said the administration will confer with the Guam Attorney General and Guam legislature to discuss options moving forward.
In the case of Davis versus Guam, Arnold “Dave” Davis — a non-Chamorro resident of Guam — sued the government of Guam claiming racial discrimination as a result of Guam’s 2000 plebiscite law, which called for a non-binding plebiscite by the indigenous Chamorro population of Guam to identify a preference for the island’s political relationship with the United States.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Guam District Court’s judgement that the plebiscite violated Davis’ 15th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Guam AG urges Congress to take action on PFAS
On July 31, Guam Attorney General Leevin Camacho joined 22 other attorneys generals in signing a joint letter urging Congress to pass legislation helping states address the threat to drinking water posed by chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — also known as PFAS. The letter also requests financial assistance to help state and local governments offset the cost of cleaning up drinking water supplies.
Joining Camacho in the letter are the attorneys generals of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Court finds YTK and port arbitration illegal
On July 18, the Supreme Court of Guam found the terms of the lease in the case of YTK Guam Corp. versus Port Authority of Guam to be illegal and vacated the trial court’s confirmation of an amended arbitration award in favor of YTK Guam that was made in accordance with the lease. YTK Guam and the Port Authority of Guam entered into a 45-year lease and went into arbitration after accusations on both sides that the other party had breached the terms of the lease. Since government-owned land cannot be transferred to a third party without the Guam Legislature’s consent and the legislature had only allowed the port authority to enter into contracts transferring port-owned land for a term not to exceed five years, the court found the lease to be illegal and the decision of the arbitration panel invalid.
TakeCare seeks relief from GovGuam GRMC requirement
On Aug. 12, TakeCare Insurance Co. Inc. sought to have the District Court of Guam declare Public Law 35-2 unconstitutional, which requires health insurance companies who seek a contract with the government of Guam to include all public and private hospitals in its in-network coverage. TakeCare claims that because Guam Regional Medical City is the only private hospital on island, this gives it undue power to control the procurement process. TakeCare also alleges GRMC has already made unreasonable demands upon the company during negotiations that occurred as part of TakeCare’s response to the Guam Department of Administration’s request for proposals for a health insurance vendor. TakeCare is seeking a declaration by the court that Public Law 35-2 is an improper delegation of authority, and violates TakeCare’s rights under the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is also seeking an injunction against Guam DOA, an award of costs and attorney fees and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.
Former UOG researcher and business owners indicted for rigging bids
On July 8, Thomas E. Marler, former University of Guam researcher and business owner, and Jayanika Lawrence, former owner of an environmental consulting business, were indicted for conspiracy to restrain trade, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Marler and Lawrence — in collaboration with other unnamed co-conspirators — are alleged to have used Marler’s position at UOG to rig price quotations for federally funded projects. Jury selection and trial is scheduled for Oct. 10.
Supreme Court of Guam reverses GovGuam versus WSTCO decision
On July 31, the Supreme Court of Guam reversed and remanded a Superior Court of Guam decision in favor of the plaintiff in the case of government of Guam versus WSTCO Quality Feed & Supply. GovGuam had filed a quiet title suit against WSTCO, which in 2006 had leased land in Barrigada from the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission to operate a slaughterhouse with an annual option to renew. The Guam Economic Development Authority then took over management of the lease through a memorandum of understanding with the GALC. GEDA sent notice to WSTCO of its intent to terminate the lease, to which WSTCO did not respond. The court found that, since WSTCO did not make timely payment, did not respond to GEDA’s notice to terminate and did not make timely notification of its intent to renew the lease, the option to renew the lease expired in 2010 and remanded the case with instructions to quiet title in favor of the government of Guam.
Apartment owners’ association must abide by arbitration
On July 26, the Supreme Court of Guam decided the appeal in the case of The Association of Apartment Owners of Guam Yamanoi Condo versus Guam Yamanoi Inc., finding that the owners’ association must abide by arbitration as contained in an agreement which governs the relationship between both parties. The association had sued Yamanoi, claiming it had operated units in the property as unlicensed condominium units. Yamanoi moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim because an existing agreement between the two parties contained an enforceable arbitration clause.
Port adverse actions reversed due to 60-day rule
In the case of Port Authority of Guam versus Civil Service Commission (Arriola), the Supreme Court of Guam on July 25 affirmed in part and reversed in part the Superior Court of Guam’s judgment upholding a decision by the Civil Service Commission reversing adverse action against Port employee Frances Arriola. The Port took adverse action against Arriola for improprieties pertaining to her handling of a coworker’s worker’s compensation-related travel but did so after 60 days had elapsed. The law at the time of the incident required notification of any adverse actions against classified government employees to be given within 60 days of the date that management knew or should have known the facts that form the basis of the adverse action. The court in part reversed the Civil Service Commission’s decision since one improper act committed by Arriola was found to have occurred within the 60-day window. The case was remanded to the Superior Court and Civil Service Commission.
In the case of Port Authority of Guam versus Civil Service Commission (Susuico), the Supreme Court on July 31 affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court that Port Authority management should have known that Port employee Kevin Susuico lacked the requisite experience and qualifications for his position no later than Oct. 16, 2012. Notification of adverse action and subsequent termination by Port management occurred outside of the 60-day window and so the termination was found unlawful. The Court ruled that Susuico be reinstated and awarded back pay along with interest and attorney’s fees.
The 60-day rule has recently been changed to allow 90 days for management to present notification of adverse action.
Landowner to pay $3.7 million in tax debt
On Aug. 14, the Guam District Court ordered Danny Leon Guerrero — former director of development firm Pacific Asian Development Ltd. — to pay $3.7 million in taxes owed for the period from 1999 to 2002. The tax debt stems from property taxes on six parcels of land in the Mongmong-Toto-Maite area that went unpaid during this time period. The judgment also authorizes the government of Guam to foreclose on six properties owned by Leon Guerrero with 50% of proceeds once sold to go toward payment of the tax debt. mbj