Port moves for dismissal of YTK’s $15 million claim in Supreme Court

Guam port (PNC file photo)

Guam – The Port Authority of Guam is moving for dismissal of YTK Corporation’s claims to confirm an arbitration panel’s award of damages now worth $15 million.

The motion was filed by Port Authority legal counsel Atty. Mike Phillips in the Supreme Court of Guam.

There are two sides to the topic of subject matter jurisdiction. On one side, Phillips argues that neither the Supreme Court nor the Superior Court have subject matter jurisdiction over YTK’s current claims as awarded by an arbitration panel.

On the flipside, however, Phillips says the courts do have jurisdiction to vacate the arbitration panel’s decision. According to Phillips, this is because the 45-year lease agreement between the Port and YTK for a failed fisheries business was illegal to begin with.

Guam law requires legislative approval for any lease that’s more than 5 years.

“It’s an illegal contract. There never was a lease for that amount of time that there was a lease; if there was, it was for five years. Nothing was done, absolutely nothing was done and nothing could be done. There couldn’t be any fisheries in a plant constructed there,” Phillips said during an interview with News Talk K57 Four Hour Phill host Phill Leon Guerrero.

Since 2001 the case has dragged on in both lower and higher courts, but ultimately landed with an arbitration panel that ruled against the Port and awarded YTK what has now become $15 million in damages.

“The panel, if you will, they’re allowed to do a lot of things but they’re not allowed to award damages that are not recognized by the legislature,” argued Phillips.  “At the end of the day you can’t collect $15 million for doing nothing and you sure as heck can’t collect $15 million when the legislature says you can’t do that. That’s illegal.”

You can read the motion to dismiss here.