GPD towing issue goes to Supreme Court - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GPD towing issue goes to Supreme Court

by Nick Delgado

Guam - A legal dispute over a verbal agreement made several years ago by the Guam Police Department made its way before the Supreme Court of Guam today.  GPD is now arguing it doesn't have to pay for services it received from Big Ben Towing Company and Anthony Lujan.  

"It can run anywhere from several thousand dollars a month to several hundred thousand dollars," stated Paul Suba in January 2005, "and we are absolutely determined to eliminate that cost if at, all possible." Suba, at the time GPD's Property and Supply Commander, was responsible for the removal of hundreds of cars that were impounded from the police department's Tiyan lot.  "What we're doing is going back and looking at those cars that we've impounded and trying to return those vehicles back to the owners as quickly as possible," he said.

But apparently GPD entered into the agreement with Big Ben Towing Company and Anthony Lujan for the removal of those vehicles without going through the procurement process.  During oral arguments presented in Guam's appellate court this morning, Lujan's attorney, Tom Fisher, argued that his client had a verbal agreement with GPD and performed under that deal.

But Assistant Attorney General Rob Weinberg, representing GPD, argued an oral agreement doesn't constitute a legal and binding contract that the government has to abide by.  He said, "The Legislature has set forth clear explicit means by which persons are to contract with the government they've done it in the procurement law and all the requirements for bids, protests, and mechanisms." CJ Torres replied, "So you're saying there's no way the government could ever enter into an implied contract, or other than a written contract?" to which Weinberg said, "Yes, I believe that's true."

Weinberg also argued that GPD has sovereign immunity, which means they cannot be sued.  Suba has said he was not the one who initiated or authorized the towing of the vehicles that were removed between 2004 and 2006 costing more than a half-million dollars.  "There was an expression of a desire by the Government of Guam that if Mr. Lujan performed and he would, in fact, receive considerations Mr. Lujan did perform and he is entitled to consideration," said Fisher.

While GPD has also argued that Lujan is barred from filing a claim for failing to do so within the required time, Attorney Fisher argued that his client did meet the requirements.  "We believe we met it," he said. "Our position is the claim arose in May 2008 when the [work] was finally complied with and we received a letter that they would not written purchase order - GovGuam procuring services."

Supreme Court justices took the matter under advisement to render an opinion at a later time.

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