7 workers claim payment of rents for IPI properties | New

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THE seven workers who sued Imperial Pacific International LLC over a scheme of alleged labor abuse and human trafficking are demanding payments on IPI real estate properties.

The complainants were previously employed by IPI’s former contractor and sub-contractor, MCC International and Gold Mantis, both of which have already settled the matter with the workers.

On May 26, 2021, the NMI District Court granted default judgment in favor of the workers plus postjudgment interest and attorneys’ fees for a total of $5.9 million.

IPI, which appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, did not pay the judgment. This resulted in the Federal Court granting the plaintiffs’ request for a writ of execution for the seizure of IPI’s personal property, including its casino gaming machines.

On March 16, 2022, the court granted a stipulation, filed in Fanter (USA Fanter Corporation v. Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC, Case No. 1:20-cv-00003) between plaintiffs and IPI that there remained the execution of the writ.

Under the stay agreement, the court amended the receivership in the Fanter case to add the seven workers as additional creditors with the right to “step into Fanter’s shoes” to enforce the judgment due to the plaintiffs.

In this suspension agreement, IPI acknowledged that in the event of breach of the suspension agreement, plaintiffs would have the right to proceed with enforcement by way of receivership.

On May 27, NMI District Court Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona found that IPI had breached the agreement.

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.

Halegua on Tuesday asked the court for an order directing IPI and the real estate parties to return to plaintiffs (a) all prepaid rent and security deposits for collateral; (b) copies of all leases, rent lists, accounting documents and all other books and records relating to the Collateral; and (c) until all monies owed by IPI to claimants are paid, all future rents or revenues received for the collateral within 72 hours of receipt of such funds.

Halegua noted that the stay agreement explicitly allows plaintiffs to pursue multiple avenues of recovery simultaneously in their judgment against IPI.

Halegua also asked the court for an order awarding the plaintiffs reasonable attorneys’ fees for the time spent on the rent demand letters and the petition.

Plaintiffs also have a separate motion pending asking the court to lift the stay of the limited receivership to sell IPI’s casino gaming equipment so that the judgment can be satisfied. The federal court has not yet ruled on this request.

The Commonwealth Casino Commission, through Assistant Attorney General Carl Dela Cruz, told the court that the CCC had no objection to the sale of IPI’s gaming machines.

USA Fanter, for its part, sued IPI for its non-payment of all monies owed to the plaintiff under its construction contract for labor and materials furnished for the property improvements of the investor in the Saipan casino in Garapan.

According to that lawsuit, IPI had only paid USA Fanter $300,000 and the outstanding balance owed was not less than $2,089,345.28. Judge Manglona rendered a final judgment in favor of USA Fanter.

As for the request for lifting of the stay of receivership, Judge Manglona has set a hearing for July 15, at 10 a.m.

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