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CUC cuts power to casino

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The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. cut electric power to the casino in Garapan and at Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s office at Vestcor on Capital Hill on Tuesday for non-payment of bills.

Power will be reconnected after IPI pays its bill, said CUC Gary P. Camacho yesterday. He refused to elaborate, saying it’s a customer’s privacy matter.

IPI confirmed the disconnection but stated it was scheduled to be reconnected yesterday, Wednesday. IPI did not indicate how much they owe CUC and for how many months.

Meanwhile, the seven former workers who are suing IPI and its contractor and subcontractor over injuries they allegedly suffered at the IPI’s casino/resort project, informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI Tuesday that IPI persists in disobeying court orders and are stonewalling them, causing discovery to move backward on many fronts.

As of press time yesterday, Saipan Tribune was still waiting for a response from IPI about the workers’ allegations.

In their status report, the seven former workers, through counsel Aaron Halegua, said that IPI violated the court’s sanctions order with its failure to meet the April 20, 2020, deadline to submit some documents, failure to file certification of compliance, failure to produce data from eight company phones, and failure to produce separation dates for IPI employees.

Halegua said IPI failed to produce corporate emails, never produced any ACONEX data, and failed to produce bank records. He said IPI persists in “nonchalantly disobeying the court’s orders and showing zero respect for its authority.”

The lawyer said the court has already awarded plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees twice, held IPI in contempt, and threatened a penalty of $2,000 per day if it failed to comply. “Monetary sanctions clearly will not induce compliance by IPI,” said Halegua as he asked the court to issue a default judgment against IPI.

Halegua asked the court, to order IPI, among other things, to send a check or make a bank transfer of $42,000 to plaintiffs, and produce electronic versions of its corporate bank records for all of 2015 to 2017 within 24 hours.

Halegua said IPI should be ordered to pay $2,000 per day to the court from April 30, 2020, and pay plaintiffs’ attorneys fees in costs caused by its disobedience of the court’s discovery orders.

Halegua asked the court to award plaintiffs attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiffs, who are now based in China, are suing IPI and its contractor, MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., and subcontractor, Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC, over the alleged injuries they suffered during accidents at the worksite of IPI’s casino/resort project in Garapan.

The plaintiffs alleged, among other things, that they were forced to work long hours for below minimum wage under extremely dangerous conditions at the casino-resort worksite.

In its response to the lawsuit, IPI said any wage claims by the plaintiffs are barred because they voluntarily illegally entered the CNMI to work.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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