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Court dismisses inmates’ lawsuit against prison store without prejudice

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DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has issued an order dismissing without prejudice the lawsuit of five inmates who accused the Department of Corrections prison store or commissary of withholding their money.

The inmates — Luis C. Babauta, Francisco Q. Guerrero, Joaquin R. Lizama, Manases Masga Manglona, and Reynaldo Manila — each sent a letter to federal court requesting help. They alleged that Corrections would not return to them the money in their commissary accounts despite the fact that the store, which was within the correctional facility, had been closed since July 2019.

They also alleged that the officers of the facility continued to accept money deposits from prisoners’ family members and friends.

In her order, Judge Manglona noted that one of the inmates, Guerrero, has already been released from prison after completing his sentence.

The four remaining inmates had asked for an extension of time to amend their complaint, which the court granted. The new deadline was set for Jan. 15, 2020.

On Jan. 20, Manila informed the court that he had decided to drop the lawsuit.

Judge Manglona said she construed the letter as a voluntary motion to dismiss. She granted Manila’s motion and dismissed him as a plaintiff in the lawsuit without prejudice, which means it can be refiled.

Judge Manglona also dismissed the lawsuit of the remaining plaintiffs without prejudice for failing to file a first amended complaint on the deadline.

Judge Manglona then instructed the clerk of court to mail a copy of the order to each plaintiff and to close the case.

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