Lawyer: Gold Mantis should produce bank records

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ATTORNEY Aaron Halegua has requested the federal court to order Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC to produce discovery materials in the lawsuit of seven workers alleging labor violations and human trafficking.

Halegua, who represents the plaintiffs, wants Gold Mantis “to (i) obtain and produce all bank records, including checks, during the relevant period, (ii) obtain and produce all responsive financial records in the possession of its accountant(s), (iii) produce all documents related to a People’s Republic of China government inquiry into the labor dispute that occurred in Saipan, and (iv) produce all responsive [electronically stored information or] ESI, including but not limited to email and WeChat messages.”

Halegua said  if Gold Mantis insists that it has performed a diligent search and possesses not a single document responsive to items (iii) or (iv), then it should be ordered to provide a sworn affidavit detailing its efforts such that plaintiffs and the court are able to determine the adequacy and reasonableness of the search.

Halegua said when the plaintiffs were still present on Saipan in April 2017, local newspapers reported on the injuries they suffered while working on the Imperial Pacific International LLC casino project.

Gold Mantis was a subcontractor of IPI.

Around that time, Halegua said, the plaintiffs also had conversations about these injuries with the Gold Mantis lawyer who, he added, stated that the company would arrange compensation upon the plaintiffs’ return to China.

“As no compensation was offered and the matter not resolved [the] plaintiffs filed the complaint,” he said.

The plaintiffs worked for IPI’s former contractor and subcontractor  MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI). Both were the original defendants in the lawsuit.

In the seven workers’ amended complaint, however, the plaintiffs alleged forced labor, negligence, and liability for employees of subcontractors. The plaintiffs also  named IPI as co-defendant.

Halegua and Bruce Berline are the two attorneys representing the plaintiffs: Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan.

They are asking the federal court to issue an order awarding them $3.86 million in compensatory damages and $7.72 million in punitive damages.

District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has previously cited IPI for failing to fully comply with various discovery requirements related to such matters as producing bank records, employee separation dates, and paper discovery.

She then issued a default judgement against IPI.

But IPI, represented by attorney Michael Dotts, has asked the court to set aside the default judgment, saying that IPI is willing to pay all sanctions but needs time.

In a recent ruling Judge Manglona granted Halegua’s two motions for attorney’s fee.

She ordered IPI to pay $93,834.25 in attorneys’ fees.

In a recent motion, Dotts reiterated the request of IPI to set aside the default judgement, saying “there exists a possibility of inconsistent judgments if a default judgment is entered as to IPI before deciding the case against MCC and Gold Mantis.”

Judge Manglona has not issued any ruling regarding IPI’s motion to set aside the default judgement.

Likewise, the judge has not issued an order regarding the plaintiffs’ request for an award of damages.

Gold Mantis is represented by the law office of Stephen J. Nutting while MCC is represented by the law office of Robert T. Torres.







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