Federal court directs IPI to provide documents requested by 7 workers

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DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has denied Imperial Pacific International’s second request for a stay and protective order in the lawsuit filed by seven workers against IPI and its former contractor and subcontractor.

In her seven-page order, Judge Manglona said IPI presented no evidence of any ongoing criminal investigation into the use of unlawful labor at its construction site.

Because the judge denied the motion for stay, she said there was no reason to issue a protective order staying discovery.

She directed IPI to produce the records that the seven workers are requesting.

IPI, represented previously by attorney Philip Tydingco, had argued that a criminal investigation “justifies a stay of the case.”

Tydingco said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had executed warrants on IPI offices.

But the plaintiffs’ lawyer, New York lawyer Aaron Halegua said IPI “does not come close to meeting its ‘heavy burden’ for obtaining a protective order and stopping all discoveries.”

“Clearly,” he added, “[it’s] just one more tactic to delay discovery.”

The plaintiffs are Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan.

They have alleged that they were victims of a forced labor and human trafficking scheme while employed by IPI contractor and subcontractor: MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI).

The workers’ amended lawsuit also brings claims under the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 as well as claims under CNMI law for the injuries they allegedly suffered at the IPI worksite.

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