No decision on restraining order in GIAA case - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

No decision on restraining order in GIAA case

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - With less than a handful of days until a new retail concessionaire is set to take over at the airport, both DFS Guam and Lotte Duty Free Guam went before Ex-Parte Judge Michael Bordallo to hear DFS' request for a temporary restraining order to prevent Lotte from completing its move into the airport.

By midnight this Saturday, DFS Guam has to move out of the Guam International Airport Authority. This afternoon in the Superior Court, DFS' attorneys asked the court to grant its request for a temporary restraining order stopping Lotte from moving in until their lawsuit is resolved.

Attorney Maurice Suh opened saying it's not only DFS and the other proposers individuals rights at stake. "But I think also at stake here is the people of Guam's right to a lawful, fair, impartial procurement process and the people of Guam's and the airport travelers rights to enjoy the duty free airport concession won on the merits," he said.

DFS has filed a complaint alleging impropriety in the procurement process, allegations that Lotte and the airport vehemently deny. In its TRO request, DFS cites that not only would its worldwide reputation be tarnished as a result of the ongoing battle but that it would cause irreparable harm. "The fact that we're being forced out within the context that Lotte alleging that we should rightly be forced out, that somehow we deserve to be forced out causes us worldwide brand injury," said Suh.

Attorney William Hebert, representing the airport, reiterated that the evaluation committee was fair and asked the court to deny the motion. He said, "It's now being called corrupt, a sham, and that somehow we're in cahoots with Lotte. Disappointment really doesn't express the airport's feelings about this - DFS should be ashamed that they have made these claims about these hardworking public servants at the airport."

He further claimed that the motion should be denied outright because the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction. As for DFS, he stated that DFS somehow claims that it should be given special rights because they are the incumbent saying that shouldn't be the case adding in the airport world, you win some and you lose some and in this case DFS lost and is taking steps to oppose the loss.

Lotte's attorney Cesar Cabot meanwhile says if you strip down the matter, DFS is simply asking for something it is not legally entitled to in remaining at the airport. As for irreparable harm for DFS he says, that simply isn't the case. "We believe that the harm that Lotte, airport territory, 125 employees, and the Guam vendors suffer greatly outweighs the possible harm that might fall on DFS," he said.

He further adds DFS' argument on tarnished reputations goes both ways. "We believe that Lotte has expended or committee in excess of $24 million. We're not suggesting that the TRO was in order, a TRO would be disastrous for Lotte," he said.

No decision was made on the TRO as Judge Bordallo says he will take the matter under advisement and issue a decision as soon as possible.

Judge Bordallo today submitted a notice of potential disqualifying facts. The ex-parte judge disclosed several facts including how the court's spouse is the first cousin of the airport deputy executive manager, relationships with a few airport board members along with how the court's spouse until most recently played tennis on occasion with Attorney Rawlen Mantanona and his wife. According to the court filing, although it was not required to disclose such facts until they arise to the level of necessity of disqualification, the court in abundance of caution disclosed the information for the parties to review prior to this afternoon's hearing.

Lotte has requested that if the TRO be granted DFS should be required to put up a $24 million bond - the amount Lotte has already spent to transition into the airport thus far.

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