IPI opposes motion for default judgement

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IMPERIAL Pacific International is opposing the motion for an entry of default judgement in a lawsuit filed in federal court by seven construction workers.

IPI and its contractor and subcontractor, MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), were sued by the plaintiffs over allegations of forced labor, negligence, and liability for employees of subcontractors.

Due to the failure of IPI to respond to discovery requests, the court recently ordered the company to show cause in writing why a default judgment should not be entered against it.

In his opposition to the entry of default, IPI attorney Mike Dotts noted that the violations of his client cited by the court fall into three categories:

 (1) Failure to pay $29,459 in attorneys’ fees and costs that were due on June 5, 2020;

(2) Failure to fully comply with various discovery requirements related to such matters as producing bank records, employee separation dates, and paper discovery; and

 (3) Failure to pay for and arrange for the transfer of electronically stored information or ESI from a vendor in Singapore to a vendor in the United States chosen by the plaintiffs.

Dotts said the failure to pay was unintentional and IPI is willing to pay but needs more time.

He said the errors and omission in discovery production are minimal, not material, and were unintentional.

“IPI seeks to come into compliance,” Dotts added.

Dotts said IPI has “found ways to resolve the electronic storage information debacle at no cost” to the plaintiffs. Data will be secured within the CNMI, and IPI will comply with the discovery orders, he added.

“It has been discovered that a full backup of data sent to the Singapore vendor was created on Saipan,” Dotts said.

As for the violations of discovery orders, Dotts said: “The fact behind those violations do not support the entry of default as a sanction.”

He said the daily sanction of $2,000 is running until the full compliance of IPI is obtained, “and that will be (and is) motivating IPI to come into compliance.”

In addition, Dotts said, there will be no prejudice to the plaintiffs who have yet to amend their complaint, and “this matter is a long way away from trial.”

“Any prejudice that could result from a delay in IPI complying with a discovery order such as the loss of contact with a witness can be cured by a spoliation instruction making entry of default unjustified,” Dotts said.

The court has scheduled a hearing for Friday, June 12, at 9 a.m. regarding its order to show cause.

Judge Manglona issued the order late Monday afternoon after IPI informed the court about its non-payment of sanctions.

Represented by attorneys Aaron Halegua and Bruce Berline, the plaintiffs are Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan.




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