Contractor’s lien claim vs IPI placed under advisement


U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has placed under advisement the claim of a former contractor of the Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC that it has provided more than enough evidence to establish a mechanic’s lien on the Garapan property.

After completing the four-day bench trial Monday, Manglona said she will issue a written ruling.

IPI counsel Cong Nie rested their defense after the testimony of their expert witness, IPI engineer Tsunglun Tsai. IPI’s other witness was IPI employee Wang Wei Chih. Nie and U.S.A. Fanter Corp. counsel Colin Thompson then gave their closing arguments.

According to the minutes of the trial, Nie renewed a motion to withdraw as IPI counsel. IPI senior vice president of public affairs Tao Xing informed the court that IPI has not identified a new lawyer. Manglona granted Nie’s motion to withdraw as counsel as of that day, Monday, and told IPI that it must be represented by a lawyer and gave the company 30 days to find a new one, as well as possible consequences if it fails to do so.

Manglona told Xing to appear at the status conference on July 16 at 1:30pm or else the court may issue an order to show cause if he does not.

Thompson said U.S.A. Fanter will be filing a motion for summary judgment. The trial began last Wednesday.

U.S.A. Fanter’s first witness, John Robertson, a U.S. mainland-based engineer, testified via video that he agreed with U.S.A. Fanter’s evaluation that its contract with IPI is 41% complete. Robertson testified that U.S.A. Fanter was only paid $300,000 and that it is owed at least $2,089,000. Robertson later agreed during cross-examination that he has no personal knowledge how U.S.A. Fanter arrived at its calculation.

U.S.A. Fanter’s also called other witnesses: U.S.A. Fanter owner Guo Cao Qian, IPI employee Jiang Zhou (through deposition), and U.S.A. Fanter’s general consultant Antonio Muña.

Last March, the court issued a mechanic’s lien to U.S.A. Fanter. At this bench trial, it needed to prove it by higher evidentiary standard preponderance of evidence. A mechanic’s lien refers to a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property.

Thompson said if Manglona finds a preponderance of evidence, she will issue a mechanic’s lien and the case will continue while U.S.A. Fanter will prove breach of contract and other remedies.

U.S.A. Fanter is suing IPI for allegedly refusing to pay $2,089,345 for landscaping services at IPI’s hotel-casino project.

U.S.A. Fanter asked the court to hold IPI liable to pay $2.08 million in contract damages. The company also sought payment for interest and attorney’s fees.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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