Ex-foreign workers of defunct Tinian Dynasty move for default judgment

Former foreign workers of the defunct Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino filed last Friday a motion for the federal court to enter a default judgment against the owners and management of Tinian Dynasty.

Samuel Mok, counsel for Eric F. Dona and co-plaintiffs, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to enter the default judgment against Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd., owner of Tinian Dynasty, and its management, Mega Stars Overseas Limited.

Mok is counsel for Dona and six other co-plaintiffs. There are 15 named plaintiffs in this case.

Mok said that, last Aug. 13, the District Court issued an order striking the answers of HKE and Mega Stars and entering default against each of the defendants as a result of their failure to retain legal counsel despite being given ample opportunity to do so.

Mok said his clients’ claims for damages are not for a sum certain or a sum that can be calculated by the court’s clerk.

“Accordingly, an evidentiary hearing is requested before final judgment is entered against the defendants,” the lawyer said.

Mok filed the motion for default judgment after U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona recently ordered the plaintiffs to explain why their lawsuit should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

In an order to show cause, Manglona said that last Aug. 14, court’s clerk entered a default of HKE and Mega Stars Overseas Ltd.

The judge said more than four months have passed and plaintiffs have not applied to the court for a default judgment, or taken any action in this case.

Last August, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood adopted Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy’s recommendation to direct the clerk to enter a default judgment against HKE and Mega Stars.

Tydingco-Gatewood granted the workers’ motion to strike the answers of HKE and Mega Stars.

Kennedy in her recommendation stated that it is well established that “a corporation may appear in the federal courts only through licensed counsel.”

In this case, Kennedy said, the court informed defendants on multiple occasions after the withdrawal of their lawyers both in 2016 and 2018, that they may face sanctions, including stricken answers and a default judgment, if they failed to obtain counsel.

“Yet no counsel has appeared to represent defendants since Jan. 16, 2018 when defendants’ second counsel was permitted to withdraw from the case,” Kennedy said.

In their lawsuit, Dona and co-plaintiffs alleged that HKE and Mega Stars lied to them about their immigration legal status.

Mok alleged that the owners and management of Tinian Dynasty lied that the workers were legally authorized to work notwithstanding the denial of their CW-1 petitions.

In February 2018, Chun Wai Chan, a corporate representative of both HKE and Mega Stars, disclosed that the total outstanding liabilities of the owner of Tinian Dynasty has now climbed to over $250 million, excluding the $75 million in civil penalty assessed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Chan said Tinian Dynasty’s casino operation stopped in August 2015, and when the hotel operation halted in March 2016 no more income could be generated since then.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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