But Dotts still lawyer in a few IPI cases
Veteran lawyer Michael W. Dotts is no longer the general counsel of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, but is still the lawyer for IPI in a few cases.
In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry, Dotts said yesterday that his contract to work as IPI’s general counsel expired on Dec. 31, 2020, and that he has not entered into a new contract with the company.
“Most of my general counsel work actually stopped in early December when IPI was no longer able to pay me,” he said.
Dotts disclosed in May 2020 that he’s providing general counsel services to IPI during the company’s “transition time.” He defined general counsel to mean representing the company in legal matters on “anything that happens.”
“An employee stealing something in the morning, there’s an accident on the job site in the afternoon and the government wants to investigate—anything that happens, you can call the attorney and address it,” he had said.
As for Donald Browne’s resignation as IPI’s chief executive officer, Dotts said even though he may have already resigned, he still has to appear in federal court this Thursday.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has ordered Browne and IPI’s chair Cui Li Jie to appear before the court this Thursday at 8:30am in connection with the U.S. Department of Labor’s lawsuit against IPI.
Manglona warned that failure to appear may result in the issuance of a bench warrant for the arrest of Cui and Browne.
Dotts said Browne could be held in contempt, but the general rule is that a person cannot be held in contempt for violating a court order that they had no notice of. Dotts said his understanding is that Browne did not know there would be a settlement payment due to the U.S. Department of Labor worth over $1 million on Dec. 1, 2020.
He said the consent judgment also required IPI to comply with federal labor laws and not paying workers is a violation of those laws.
“But based on Donald Browne’s declaration, he believed all the workers would be paid by Christmas. He did not intend a violation,” Dotts said.
IPI has been placed on independent monitoring in connection with then-U.S. Labor secretary R. Alexander Acosta’s lawsuit in federal court against IPI for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act over the construction of its casino/resort project in Garapan.
To resolve the lawsuit, IPI and Acosta agreed to an entry of a consent judgment in April 2019. IPI agreed to pay a total of $3.36 million, which is composed of $1.58 million in back wages, another $1.58 million in liquidated damages, and $200,000 in civil penalties.