Statement from the Commissioner of Fire and Emergency Medical Services on the CNMI Superior Court’s dismissal of CS# 21-0187

On September 27, 2021, Judge Joseph N. Camacho dismissed CS No. 21-0187 against Commissioner of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Dennis Mendiola in his official and personal capacity. Based on Judge Camacho’s stipulation, the court does not have jurisdiction over the matter. Judge Camacho further stated that the former firefighters must take proper steps and exhaust their administrative proceedings through the Civil Service Commission. Earlier this month, Judge Camacho dismissed the former firefighters’ preliminary injunction claim. In his 28-page court order, Judge Camacho wrote that the former firefighters did not have a high likelihood of success on this case based on the merits claimed.

The following is a statement from Commissioner Mendiola:

“Today is a reaffirmation of our ongoing and successful vaccination and mitigation efforts to safeguard our population from the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Camacho’s decision to maintain the termination of the former firefighters is in line with several precefdents and court decisions throughout the country that uphold that states and territories are allowed enforce compulsory vaccination. Although, there is still a long process to the final disposition of this matter, I am still thankful of the outcome.

It is unfortunate that we have to lose good firefighters through this process. To be clear, it was never the Governor’s nor my intention to go through this level of enforcement, yet the well-being of our community is of our utmost concern as we remain in a global pandemic. As firefighters and first responders, we are charged with the great responsibility of ensuring the safety of our community and that starts with us to protect ourselves through vaccination before answering the call of duty and to lead by example.

I wish there was another way, however, we are still in a state of emergency and must take all necessary measures to protect our loved ones and of course our people. COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the country, and we are seeing an exponential increase in the number of COVID-19 cases at our borders and quarantine sites here in the CNMI. The pandemic remains a clear and present danger to our livelihood, as we see the positive cases go higher and higher. As firefighters, we are at the frontlines of this response, and we must continue the work of maintaining one of the most effective COVID-19 operations in the country.”

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