Judge denies Union Bank’s motion

THE District Court for the NMI has denied Union Bank of California’s motion to deny Derron Gerard Flores’s request for a prejudgment interest in a lawsuit that seeks to collect principal and interest on a 1993 certificate of deposit or CD.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona in her order on Tuesday stated that Flores may not seek prejudgment interest prior to Sept. 22, 2008, adding that the court will hear further arguments after the trial concludes as to the appropriate prejudgment interest.

The court set the jury trial for Nov. 6, 2017.

Attorney Juan T. Lizama, representing the estate of Flores’s father, the late former Saipan Mayor Donald Flores, has asked the federal court to award his client prejudgment interest.

Lizama said the prejudgment interest takes effect when the breach of contract accrues.

But Judge Manglona said the estate may not argue that the breach accrued prior to 2008, as the Ninth Circuit has already determined the date, and it may not revisit whether the six-year statute of limitations bars the plaintiff’s claims.

Union Bank attorney Sean E. Frink said CNMI law governs what the rate of prejudgment interest should be, and CNMI case law requires expert testimony to establish that rate.

The judge agreed with the bank’s assertion but also said it is for the court to determine what rate is equitable under the circumstances based on the damages proven.

Furthermore, the judge said, the court is not convinced that an expert is required to demonstrate entitlement to prejudgment interest.

Her order also pointed out that the estate has failed to articulate why the proposed interest rates of 9 percent or 12 percent are equitable or applicable to the facts of this case.

Judge Manglona rejected the estate’s proposed rates. She said if the plaintiff convinces the jury that the estate is entitled to damages, the court will determine an equitable prejudgment interest based on the evidence presented at trial and the jury findings.

The case stemmed from the proceeds of a certificate of deposit or CD that Donald Flores purchased from Union Bank’s Oleai Branch on Sept, 10, 1993 in his name in the amount of $200,000.

According to the lawsuit, a bank official concealed the fact that she later cashed the CD for a caller claiming to be Donald Flores.

Donald Flores sued Union Bank in federal court in 2011. The court granted a summary judgment in favor of the bank on grounds that the statute of limitations had lapsed. Donald Flores then appealed but while the appeal was pending in 2014, he passed away and Mrs. Flores as administrator of his estate substituted as appellant.

When she passed away in 2015, Derron Flores, the only son of Donald and Cecilia Flores, was appointed as the administrator of the family’s estate.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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