IPI asks court to suspend proceedings in workers’ lawsuit

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CITING the indictments against two of its executives, Imperial Pacific International LLC has requested the federal court to suspend the proceedings in the lawsuit of seven construction workers who are alleging labor and other complaints.

IPI attorney Michael Dotts filed a motion for stay while the criminal indictment is ongoing.

Dotts also wants to know why District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona continued to handle the civil lawsuit when she presided over the then-sealed indictment against the two IPI executives.

IPI likewise asked the court to vacate all discovery sanctions entered against the company since December 2019.

The court last week unsealed a superseding indictment against two IPI executives and a former contractor’s staffer over allegations that they hired “tourists” to work at the casino-resort project in Garapan.

Peter or Liwen Wu, Jianmin Xu, and Yan Shi were charged with one count of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, 32 counts of harboring illegal aliens, 32 counts of unlawful employment of aliens, and five counts of international promotional money laundering.

Dotts said IPI had already twice asked for a stay in the lawsuit filed by the seven construction workers because it feared that the U.S. government was also conducting a criminal investigation against IPI at the same time as this civil matter was being litigated.

In the IPI motion to stay proceedings, Dotts said Judge Manglona twice dismissed the fears of IPI and denied the motions for a stay.

IPI said it learned on Wednesday that it was right all along when a criminal indictment against two of its executives was unsealed, just days before Judge Manglona would decide the amount to enter as a default judgment against IPI.

Dotts said the judge, while presiding over the civil matter, had been presiding over the once-sealed criminal investigation since March 2018, a year before the plaintiffs in the civil action amended their complaint to add IPI as a defendant.

Dotts said IPI for the third time, moves for the mandatory stay because Judge Manglona is presiding over a criminal matter involving the same occurrence in this civil action.

Dotts said Judge Manglona has no discretion to deny a stay that is mandatory under the statute.

But on Friday, Judge Mangloa denied the motion of IPI to set aside judgement in the lawsuit filed by construction workers Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan.

Judge Manglona has not ruled on the plaintiffs’ petition for damages, but ordered the plaintiffs to file a supplemental briefing due on Aug. 14.

The judge said she will also issue an order on the plaintiffs’ pending motions for attorney’s fees.

Regarding the IPI motion for stay, Judge Manglona scheduled a hearing for Sept. 10 at 9 a.m.

The plaintiffs are asking the federal court to issue an order awarding them $3.86 million in compensatory damages and $7.72 million in punitive damages.

The plaintiffs worked for the former  IPI contractor and subcontractor, MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI).

IPI was named defendant in the seven workers’ amended complaint.

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

The plaintiffs’ first amended complaint also alleged human trafficking under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act, as well as claims under CNMI law for the physical injuries that the plaintiffs said they suffered at the construction project.





November 2020 pssnewsletter

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