Pedro Terlaje, who sued the government of Guam for wrongful arrest in 2017, is opposing the government’s motion to dismiss the $1 million lawsuit filed in federal court.
Guam – In a lawsuit filed in November 2018, Terlaje alleged he was wrongfully arrested and detained the airport police officers, in violation of his civil and constitutional rights.
While the government has argued it cannot be sued, Terlaje’s attorney countered that the airport is “a distinct person acting under color of territorial law and can be sued as it is not the territory of Guam.”
He argued that the federal court has jurisdiction over the matter.
Court documents state that while the airport cited several cases to support its argument that it could not be held liable for “the unconstitutional acts committed by the airport police officer,” Terlaje pointed out that not one case involved a separate corporate body such as the one created by Guam law, establishing the “person” of the Guam International Airport Authority.
Terlaje’s attorney further argued that the territory of Guam waived its sovereign immunity liability for the corporate entity of the airport.
This means that the limitation of liability of airport police officers for torts including false arrests is waived by Guam law.
In suing the government, Terlaje argued that arresting police officer was outside of the airport jurisdiction and therefore did not have legal authority to make the arrest.
Terlaje was arrested following a car accident on Governor Carlos Camacho Road in Tamuning in April 2017.
He was released from custody 27 hours later and the government did not pursue any charges against him.