Supreme Court: Merits of alleged misconduct should be considered

MERITS HEARING: The Supreme Court of Guam has overturned a lower court ruling in one of the Port 7 cases after finding that the lower court erred by not considering the merits of the accusations against former Port personnel specialist Frances Arriola. Post file photo

During a status hearing before the Civil Service Commission on Tuesday, Daniel Del Priore told the commission that "the parameters of a settlement" agreement had been reached with Port Authority of Guam management and he was just waiting for the Port board's "complexion to change" before submitting the agreement for approval.

Del Priore is a Guam Federation of Teachers field representative. 

At the hearing, CSC administrative counsel Eric Miller began by saying, “Last time we were here, there was a discussion of a potential settlement. Where do we stand this afternoon?”

Port legal counsel Darleen Hiton, of the Law Office of Phillips & Bordallo, responded, “At this time, the Port has not accepted or given us any indication that they are inclined to settle this case.”

Del Priore said his discussions with the Port left him with a different impression.

“We have the parameters. It’s verbally agreed to,” Del Priore said.

Del Priore then said, "To be perfectly candid, we’re waiting for the (Port) board complexion to change so that which management has agreed on will be ratified by the board."

Del Priore represents Benjamin Pineda, a former Port stevedore who was fired for allegedly refusing to take a drug test.  He is seeking reinstatement.

Del Priore said Pineda did not refuse to take the drug test. He said his client was not able to generate the required urine sample “during the time period allowed.”

Pineda is not one of the fired workers known as the "Port 7." Del Priore said he does not represent any of those seven employees terminated more than six years ago over an allegedly fraudulent workers' compensation claim.

Port 'invited settlement offers'

Attorney Curtis Vandeveld, who represents two of the Port 7, said Port management has not made any settlement offers to his clients.

However, in a texted message to The Guam Daily Post, he said the Port has "invited settlement offers," and in January the parties decided to delay status hearings "for the purpose of exploring settlement."

When contacted for comment about his remarks at Tuesday's CSC hearing, Del Priore told the Post, “We have not consummated any settlement. ... There is not a verbal agreement. There is no agreement to accept the settlement proposal.”

When asked what he meant when he said at the CSC hearing that the Port has the "parameters” of an agreement, Del Priore explained, “The word ‘parameters’ means the general idea of how to resolve a case.”

Del Priore acknowledged meeting with Port Deputy General Manager Connie Shinohara. “We discussed it,” said Del Priore, “but nothing has – per se – been agreed to.”

In January, Port General Manager Rory Respicio appointed Shinohara to lead a task force to review the termination of the Port 7 and at least six other former Port employees, including Pineda.

When asked what he meant when he said he was “waiting for the (Port) board complexion to change so that (to) which management has agreed on will be ratified,” Del Priore said, “By that I meant that management understands that there are issues and problems with management’s case.”

“Yes, we had set out the parameters of a settlement and they have to be submitted to the board (and) it’s one that ought to be considered for settlement.”

When asked whether a dollar figure was part of the “parameters of a settlement” that was discussed with Shinohara, Del Priore said, “We hadn’t gotten into anything on that.”

He said the discussions with Shinohara concerned the merits of the case.

Respicio said the Port did not make a settlement offer to Del Priore in the Pineda case.

“They made a proposal,” Respicio said.

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