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6 Jul 2020

Saipan Tribune (USA)

USA: Seven Chinese workers seek $11.58 million in compensatory damages against Imperial Pacific International

“Seven former IPI workers seek $11.58M in damages”, 6 July 2020

The seven China-based former workers of a then-contractor and a subcontractor of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC are seeking a total of $11.58 million in compensatory damages against IPI in connection with their lawsuit. They also want payment for attorneys’ fees and court costs.

That’s $3,863,534 in compensatory damages plus $7.72 million punitive damages, for a grand total of $11.58 million.

Aaron Halegua and Bruce Berline, who are counsel for the plaintiffs, said this amount is reasonable for the “slave-like” conditions and severe injuries the plaintiffs endured…

Last June 12, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona entered a default judgment against IPI during a show-cause hearing, describing IPI’s noncompliance with court orders and delays in this lawsuit as “mindboggling and “very frustrating.”

IPI general counsel Michael Dotts earlier stated that they disagree with Manglona and that they will move to reconsider her decision…

Halegua and Berline said the plaintiffs were defrauded into paying enormous fees for work on Saipan, indebting themselves to family, friends, or loan sharks, only to spend each day in fear of being beaten, fired, fined, or deported; that the plaintiffs were treated like “machines,” not human, working 13-hour days for less than minimum wage without a day off in up to five months.

“It was the most dangerous worksite that plaintiffs had ever seen—tired workers performing evening shifts high-up on the casino scaffolding with no safety nets,” Halegua and Berline said.

Plaintiffs were allegedly humiliated by bosses who called them heigong (“illegal workers”) and ridiculed for being “stupid” because they paid a recruitment fee for their job…

The lawyers said IPI not only condoned this inhumane treatment, but actively participated in and benefitted from the forced labor scheme…

IPI, MCC, and Gold Mantis have denied the plaintiffs’ allegations.

Part of the following timelines

USA: Construction workers sue Imperial Pacific and its contractors over claims for forced labour and human trafficking in Saipan

Imperial Pacific International lawsuit (re forced labour and human trafficking, Saipan, USA)