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Last updateTue, 22 Oct 2019 12am







    Sunday, October 20, 2019-8:17:33A.M.






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7 injured workers demand compensation from construction firm

SEVEN construction workers from China are seeking compensations from Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC, one of the firms hired to construct the Saipan casino, for injuries sustained during their employment.

The workers suffered badly burnt leg, scalded hand and partially severed finger among other injuries.

Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu and Duxin Yang, through Berline & Associates law firm, are suing Gold Mantis for negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They are asking the District Court for the NMI to award them general, special and punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial. The workers  are  demanding a jury trial.

The plaintiffs said they paid large fees based on promises of high paying construction jobs on Saipan. They  accuse Gold Mantis of forcing them to work long hours for wages below the minimum hourly rate and under extremely dangerous conditions.

Their lawyer, Bruce Berline, said “the construction site had an injury incidence rate above the national average.”

He added, “There were safety violations in plain sight and employees received neither adequate training nor protective equipment. Rather than seek to improve conditions on the worksite, [Saipan casino investor] Imperial Pacific and its contractors sought to conceal the severity of the problem from government authorities, medical providers, and any other party that might hold them accountable.”

Berline said each of the plaintiffs suffered a physical injury while working for Gold Mantis, including a badly burnt leg, scalded hand, and partially severed finger.

“Not only did Gold Mantis refuse to take the injured workers to the hospital, but in order to keep hidden their own illegal practices, also threatened  plaintiffs that they risked being arrested if they sought medical attention on their own,” Berline said, adding that the plaintiffs were left to care for their injuries on their own.

Gold Mantis never purchased workers compensation insurance for these employees, the lawyer said.

“Despite the fact that plaintiffs sustained serious and severe injuries, missed time from work, and paid medical expenses out of their own pockets, Gold Mantis never compensated them a penny for the injuries they suffered at work,” Berline added.

“In 2017, after federal authorities began investigating contractors on the casino projection for allegation of workers abuses and Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations, Gold Mantis manager and supervisors abandoned workers including plaintiffs on Saipan with unpaid wages and inadequate housing and without food and water,” Berline said.

In March 2018, he said, the U.S. Department of Labor reached a settlement with contractors, including Gold Mantis, which will pay a collective $13.9 million in back wages and damages to employees from China.

USDOL investigators determined that the foreign-based contractors paid their workforce less than the minimum wage and overtime pay, Berline said.

The four China-based construction companies are MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., Beilida New Materials System Engineering Co Ltd., Sino Great Wall International Engineering Co. LLC and Gold Mantis.

According to USDOL, MCC, Beilida and Gold Mantis also employed Chinese workers brought to Saipan as “tourists” under a tourist visa waiver program.