DFS seeks judge’s clarity; says Lotte can’t stay at airport without a contract

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Guam – A ruling handed down last month by Superior Court Judge Arthur Barcinas on a five-year court battle between DFS Guam and the Guam International Airport authority over a concession contract dispute has both sides at odds once again.

And now clarification is being sought on the judge’s ruling through a motion.

Although Judge Barcinas sided with DFS, ordering the Lotte contract void, it was DFS who filed a motion court, claiming there were errors contained in the final ruling.

DFS Legal Counsel Maurice Suh says the motion is simply for clarification.

“For the court to clarify that, in effect, things like that couldn’t happen, or shouldn’t happen, for example, that Lotte shouldn’t be able to stay at the airport forever without a contract, it shouldn’t be able to do whatever it wishes because there is no requirement that it abides by anything after the contract is voided and it stays in,” said Suh, adding these points weren’t addressed in Judge Barcinas’ original ruling.

Suh is referring to the concession contract that was awarded to Lotte Duty Free in 2013 for retail space at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport. DFS filed protests after the winning bidder was announced, accusing Lotte of bribing airport officials with gifts and hotel stays.

On the issue of the latest motion filed by DFS, GIAA is claiming DFS filed that claim to further its self-interest and maintain the monopoly that it once held on the airport.

“DFS was the incumbent for over 30 years and for the first time faced competition in 2012 when it lost to Lotte in 2013, coming in third, not even second, but coming in third as part of the process. It filed this litigation against the airport and in the course of the last 4.5 years, have used its substantial resources to try to bully its way back into the airport,” explained GIAA legal counsel Atty. Genevieve Rapadas.

“We filed an appeal of the judgement and we believe that the appellate process should move forward, that the Supreme Court should finally be able, after 4.5 years, to review the court’s decisions and that this litigation has lasted far longer than was necessary,” she added.

Rapadas says that the motion essentially puts a pause in that appeal and they’ve been saying for years that they want the litigation to end.

Suh counters that because of the errors in the original ruling, it’s not yet ripe for an appeal. He says Barcinas retains jurisdiction to resolve the matter they raised and once that judgement is issued, then the appellate process can begin.

“If there is one party that has dragged this out for years, it hasn’t been us. We have always said, for years and years, we wanted to take this case to trial, get it heard quickly. That has always been our goal,” added Suh.

In the meantime, Rapadas says the airport will continue to abide by the concession agreement as the court has ordered it to do. They remain hopeful that the process will move forward in an efficient and timely manner.

The latest motion by DFS has not yet been set for a hearing.