Saipan Air’s Opposition Move Approved In CNMI Court

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Saipan Air’s Opposition Move Approved In CNMI Court Local airline suing former partner for failing to deliver aircraft

By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Oct. 31, 2012) – The Northern Marianas Islands (NMI) federal court agreed yesterday to the stipulation made by the counsels for Saipan Air to file its opposition to Swift Air’s motion to dismiss the case on Nov. 9.

In her Oct. 30 order, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona stated, "Based upon the stipulation of counsel, Saipan Air Inc. shall file its opposition to the motion to dismiss on or before Nov. 9, 2012."

She also asked the defendants, Swift Air executives Donald A. Stukes, Jeffrey Conry, and Boris Van Lier to reply on Dec. 6.

Manglona set the hearing for Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m.

Counsels Steven Pixley, representing Saipan Air, and Michael White, representing the defendants, informed the court on Oct. 23 that they had agreed that the plaintiffs would file their opposition to the defendants’ motion to dismiss on Nov. 9.

Earlier, through White, the Swift Air LLC executives asked the court to dismiss the complaint filed by Saipan Air Inc. for lack of jurisdiction.

In asking for the dismissal of Saipan Air’s complaint, the defendants, through White, said the court lacked personal jurisdiction over Conry, Stukes and Van Lier.

White said a district court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, in the absence of an applicable statute, if the state long-arm statute permits it and the exercise of jurisdiction does not violate federal due process standards.

He said for the district court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, "that defendant must have at least ‘minimum contacts’ with the relevant forum such that the exercise of jurisdiction ‘does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."

White also invoked the three-pronged Lake test established by the Ninth Circuit for analyzing specific personal jurisdiction.

Tan Holdings’ Saipan Air sued Swift Air LLC for its failure to provide aircraft when it was supposed to launch on July 1 and is asking $50 million in punitive damages, special damages to be proven at trial, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, restitution, attorney fees, costs, and for other relief.

Before the July 1 deadline, the financially distressed Swift Air terminated its agreement with Saipan Air on June 24, and filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 on June 27, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona.

Swift Air owes Saipan Air, its second largest creditor, $1.276 million.

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