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Judge extends IPI deadline to pay attorney’s fees

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DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has granted the request of Imperial Pacific International LLC for an extension of time to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees in the amount of $93,834.25.

Judge Manglona granted IPI’s motion for deadline extension by 30 days.

“IPI shall pay plaintiffs’ counsel the full amount by October 24,” the judge said, adding that this is the only instance the court will grant IPI an extension to pay.

She said the court has previously notified IPI of the possibility of liquidating some of its assets or direct available cash flow to satisfy court orders rather than paying other expenses.

IPI “shall also make interim payment amounts to plaintiffs’ counsel as soon as funds are available,” the judge said.

She previously denied IPI’s request to suspend  court proceedings in the lawsuit filed by seven construction workers over labor complaints and other allegations.

Following the denial, IPI attorney Michael Dotts requested the court for a 30- to 60-day  extension to pay the attorney’s fees as ordered on Aug. 25. The original deadline was Sept. 24.

Dotts said IPI has no funds and no financial capacity to a make payment, but he added that funding will be available within to 30 to 60 days.

In his declaration to support Dotts’ request, Donald Browne, IPI chief executive officer, told the court that the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected IPI’s business starting in Dec. 2019 and forced IPI’s business to close entirely on March 17, 2020.

Browne said IPI is still not allowed to reopen by order of the CNMI government. “Even if allowed to reopen, there are no tourists coming to Saipan and no recovery is expected in the tourist market until May 2021 at the earliest,” he added.

Browne said “IPI has sources of funds outside of the CNMI and receives funding on a sporadic basis. IPI expects to have funds available to cover this liability available in 30 to 60 days.”

“Upon receipt of funding,” he added, “IPI will immediately pay the sanctions imposed on Aug. 25.”

Last month, Judge Manglona  denied IPI’s motion to set aside judgement in the lawsuit filed by Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Aaron Halegua and Bruce Berline. They have asked the federal court to issue an order awarding them $3.86 million in compensatory damages and $7.72 million in  punitive damages.

The plaintiffs worked for IPI’s former contractor and subcontractor: MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI).

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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