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Court says Core Tech must prove chain of title to claim compensation

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Core Tech International must prove the transfer of a disputed property to back its compensation claim from the government, the Supreme Court of Guam said in a recent decision on complex litigation involving a piece of land that is also being claimed by Guam Waterworks Authority.

"Any evidence verifying chain of title and any evidence thereto is critical to establish whether easements remain, whether takings occurred, where specific plots of land and their utilities were conveyed, and whether Core Tech is justified in seeking compensation," the Supreme Court said.

The property in question was purchased by Core Tech from Younex International, which acquired it from its previous owner, Kil Koo Yoon.

GWA argued that Core Tech "only obtained its purported right in the property through a series of questionable transfers."

The Supreme Court, however, declined to allow GWA to enter an appeal.

“We have neither examined trial court’s findings for factual accuracy nor reviewed if such findings are supported by the evidence, and we make no factual determination," the court said.

“With this order, the Supreme Court of Guam confirmed that it will not interfere until answers to factual questions are established and settled in the Superior Court,” according to Theresa Rojas, legal counsel for GWA.

This evidence is needed before any analysis on the applicable laws may be granted and reviewed by the Supreme Court.

“In this case, GWA has been accused of taking (or keeping) returned land from ancestral land owners. Yet, since 1980 the land has been used for specific public benefit as a wastewater treatment plant as first granted by the United States government,” Rojas said.

“This public benefit on the disputed property has been well-documented and permitted through public laws, adopted land use plans, and federal and government of Guam leases, easements, and deeds, all which prevented the plant’s transfer as a public facility to any private land owner. Core Tech argues it acquired the disputed property through foreclosure in May 2015 and now argues the disputed land, presumptively returned to specific ancestral land owners, now legally belongs to them.”

GWA originally petitioned for an interlocutory appeal due to Core Tech’s attempt to obtain an estimated $220 million in compensation from the public utility.

“GWA’s legal team and the government of Guam will continue to proceed professionally with all legal options available to protect the public’s interests, not a private interest, so GWA can continue to provide the community with essential and affordable water and wastewater services,” Rojas said.

GWA has maintained since the case filing in 2018 that Core Tech has never owned the property occupied by the plant.

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