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DFS case assigned new judge

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Just as a new judge has been assigned to the DFS Group's case against the airport and Lotte Duty Free Guam over the lucrative specialty retail concessionaire contract, Lotte isn't waiting and is steadfully planning and spending millions for its move later this month.

Calling it beyond the point of no return, Lotte Duty Free attorney Cesar Cabot says his client is ready to move in to the airport later this month. "Come hell or high water Lotte will be in there by July 21," he said.

This comes as the most recent development in the ongoing lawsuit Judge Vernon Perez has been assigned to replace Superior Court Presiding Judge Alberto Lamorena.

Lamorena had recused himself over family relationships involved in the case.

DFS attorney Bill Blair, though unavailable for an on-camera interview, tells KUAM that Judge Michael Bordallo reviewed the request by Lamorena and determined his recusal was valid and based on good grounds. He further tells KUAM this ultimately helps start the case up again.

As we reported, DFS Group has asked the superior court to halt the concessionaire contract and order a new request for proposal prohibiting Lotte from applying as they claim Lotte altered its proposal after the bids had already been submitted- something Lotte has vehemently denied.

In the meantime, Cabot says Lotte isn't letting the lawsuit phase them as they're already planning to move in less than two weeks. "Lotte is very excited, they've been working around the clock, working very hard and putting in countless hours in preparation and they will be in here by July 21," he said.

In fact, Cabot says there's no turning back now as Lotte has already expended and committed in excess of $24 million in preparing for its move, and that doesn't even include construction costs. "That just shows the magnitude of their commitment to Guam and the people of Guam in the airport that this is going to be a first class establishment that they're going to be placing at the airport they've also hired 125 employees, 87 of which are already working for Lotte and they project by July 21 they should have 200 employees for Lotte," he said.

Blair nor Cabot meanwhile would comment as to whether a transition plan has been provided by DFS for its move out but both confirm that DFS must vacate the premises by July 20 at midnight.

As for other possible lawsuits that could delay Lotte's move, Cabot says he would rather not speculate saying Lotte is strictly focused on the turn-over. Blair meanwhile had no comment as to whether DFS would be filing any other motions in the near future. "I think it's only logical that Lotte and DFS find a way to work together harmoniously so that we can affectively go through this transition and handover in an efficient manner 3036 it only makes sense, it only makes common sense," he said.

Cabot in the meantime says Lotte has yet to hear back on its letter to the airport asking that DFS Guam be debarred or suspended for two years from any procurement contracts over claims that the airport evaluation team was provided with an improper gratuity namely iPads to assist with their evaluation efforts in which the iPads were not collected by DFS following the evaluation. A new court date meanwhile has yet to be set on the DFS case. 

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