Defendants Request Recognition of Fees Paid to GHURA’s Lawyer in ‘Frivolous Trial’ | Guam News


Lawyers for Guam Delegate Michael San Nicolas and his father, the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, are seeking an accounting of attorney fees paid to GHURA’s legal counsel to that the defendants may seek reimbursement of those fees from the people of Guam for having been spent on “a clearly frivolous lawsuit.”

The request was made in response to GHURA’s response to defendants wanting to dismiss the case.

“The court should reject the arguments presented by the plaintiff in his response and grant the motion to dismiss,” the response said on behalf of the delegate and his father.

“Further, the court should declare the lawsuit frivolous and hold a hearing to impose an award of attorney’s fees to the plaintiff and Ray Topasna for the enforcement of the verified complaint,” the response added, before requesting the consideration of attorney’s fees paid to GHURA’s attorney, McDonald Law Office LLC.

The delegate and his father are represented by Razzano Walsh & Torres, PC

Topasna had served as executive director of GHURA, but died about two months after the response was filed in December 2021.

The case was scheduled to be argued on March 17, but it was pushed back to June 20 due to an overlap with another case involving the defendants’ lawyers.

GHURA filed a lawsuit against Michael San Nicolas and his father, Miguel B. San Nicolas, for allegedly making false statements related to their role as landlords in the federally funded Section 8 housing program. The agency is seeking to recover payments made during the years the alleged disputes took place, in addition to other relief.

Michael San Nicolas was a senator who directly monitored GHURA, and this posed a conflict of interest when he continued to be the owner of GHURA’s Section 8 program tenants, according to the suit.

The allegations stem from housing rental agreements that began a decade ago, before Michael San Nicolas became a public servant, but continued after his election as a senator in 2013.

Between January 2013 and April 2017, Michael San Nicolas reportedly received approximately $54,041 in payments.

Her father was allegedly involved in her political career and, as an immediate family member, also had a conflict of interest. Miguel San Nicolas reportedly earned $76,186 under a housing contract as owner of Section 8 from October 2013 to the end of October 2017.

The San Nicolases argued that there are only two ways to bring an action under Guam’s False Allegations and Whistleblowers Act – as Guam’s Attorney General or by a private person – and GHURA is neither.

The attorney general’s office declined to pursue the case on behalf of the Guam government.

But GHURA’s lawyers cited laws to back up the agency’s claim that she is considered a “person” who could sue under the False Allegations and Whistleblower Act.

In response, San Nicolas attorneys said including GHURA as a “person” under the False Claims and Whistleblower Act would lead to absurd results. While they did not dispute that GHURA is a “person” for certain purposes, they argued that the agency is not a person under the False Allegations and Whistleblower Act in particular.

Among their arguments, the lawyers also argued that the MPC’s refusal to take up the case should be taken as persuasive authority that the lawsuit could not stand.


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