Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 27 Aug 2019 12am







    Monday, August 26, 2019-9:36:51P.M.






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MCC denies forcing workers to work; says it is not responsible for their injuries

MCC International Saipan Limited, one of the former contractors for the Saipan casino, said it did not force workers to work and was not responsible for their injuries they claim in their lawsuit.

MCC is seeking the dismissal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act or TVPA claims, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to state a plausible claim against the company.

MCC is represented by attorney Robert T. Torres.

Torres noted in his court filings that the workers are accusing MCC of engaging in a forced labor scheme using unauthorized workers from China.

“MCC is forced to defend against claims by plaintiffs who never allege having worked for MCC,” he added.

“Plaintiffs make their arguments cogently but what is salient is that they fail to allege facts that MCC violated the TVPA or was the cause of their injuries,” he added.

The plaintiffs are Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yang. They are represented by New York lawyer Aaron Halegua in their lawsuit against Saipan casino investors Imperial Pacific International and its former contractors Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC, MCC International Saipan Ltd.

In their 47-page first amendment complaint, the workers alleged forced labor, negligence, and liability for employees of subcontractor.

The amended lawsuit added the trafficking charges as well as claims under CNMI law for the injuries they said they suffered. The injuries included a badly burnt leg, a scalded hand, and a partially severed finger.

The lawsuit alleged that IPI knew about or, at a minimum, recklessly disregarded its contractors’ “exploitative and illegal practices.”

But Torres said the workers’ complaint “comes up short when the allegations in the lawsuit are measured against the facts necessary to state a plausible cause of action.”

Torres reiterated the use of “shotgun pleadings” which, he added, makes it difficult to form a responsive pleading and could interfere with the court’s ability to administer justice.

“It is not for the court nor defendants, including MCC, to presume to fill in the gaps when [the complaint] lack[s] clarity. A more definite statement will ensure that when pleading multiple claims against multiple defendants, separation of and detailing of allegations is appropriate and proper,” Torres said.

As an example, he said the complaint did not allege that MCC housed or provided meals for the workers.

However, he added, the first amended complaint “does make specific harboring allegations as to defendants Gold Mantis and Imperial Pacific.”

“By shotgun pleadings,” Torres said, “MCC is lumped into a claim when no allegations are stated as to its alleged conduct or behavior. This is the defect for which MCC urges a more definite statement.”

Torres requested the court to direct the plaintiffs to file a more definite statement in their lawsuit.

According to the workers’ lawyer, their lawsuit has “more than adequately stated a plausible claim under the TVPA for forced labor and trafficking against each defendant.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer said each defendant had a duty to ensure a safe work environment, “but rather than fix the dangers brought to their attention, defendants allowed them to persist and concealed them from government detection.”