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Federal court grants IPI’s motion to extend time to produce discovery

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CHIEF Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI has granted the request of Imperial Pacific International to extend time to produce discovery requested by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging labor violations.

At the hearing on Friday, the judge also noted that the court received a letter on the IPI letterhead that was submitted by mail to the clerk’s office.

But Bruce Berline, one of the two attorneys representing the plaintiffs, stated that the letter was not signed.

Judge Manglona ordered IPI counsel Mike Dotts to confirm if the letter is in fact from IPI; otherwise, she said, the court will not file.

The letter, which circulated among protesting IPI workers on Thursday, asked, among other things, for the replacement of Judge Manglona in presiding over cases involving IPI.
Dotts, at the hearing, updated the court as to the progress of IPI in producing documents and moved for a 15-day extension.

Judge Manglona granted the request and extended the deadline to July 13.

The judge also ordered Dotts to “tender the responsive documents it has identified in the paper discovery by June 27.”

Judge Manglona granted the request to amend the briefing schedule made by the plaintiffs’ other attorney, Aaron Halegua. The court rescheduled the default judgement hearing for Aug. 7, which could possibly be continued to Aug. 10.

The judge previously scheduled the default hearing for July 24.

Berline and Halegua represent plaintiffs Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan who sued IPI and its contractor and subcontractor, MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI).

The plaintiffs are alleging forced labor, negligence, and liability to employees of subcontractors.

The workers’ lawsuit sought an unspecified amount in damages and monetary compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering against the defendants.

The plaintiffs’ first amended complaint also alleged human trafficking, as well as claims under CNMI law for the physical injuries the plaintiffs said they suffered at the IPI construction project.

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