Ex-IPI employee amends lawsuit; removes fraud claim


A former VIP services host of Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino has amended her lawsuit against the owner of the resort/casino in Garapan.

Shirline Loh, through counsel William M. Fitzgerald, is now suing Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC for alleged violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act—unpaid minimum wage and unpaid overtime compensation, and conversion.

Loh asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to hold IPI liable to pay her the minimum wage and overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours each work week.

Loh wants a share of the tips that she accuses IPI of keeping for itself. She also demanded payment for liquidated and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Loh worked for IPI from Oct. 15, 2015, until August 2016, as a VIP services host.

According to Fitzgerald, IPI violated the provisions of the FLSA by failing to pay Loh the minimum wage and overtime compensation.

The lawyer said that IPI, through its staff Yuki Xia, did not give Loh her share of tips made by customers to be given to the VIP hosts, that IPI refused to give Loh her rightful share of the tips.

The court dismissed Loh’s fraud claims last February. She did not sue IPI for fraud in the amended court action.

In dismissing the fraud claim, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said a mere expectation that Loh would get share of the tips, without some statement or action by Imperial Pacific to support that expectation, does not constitute fraud.

Manglona said when a party alleges fraud, it must “state with particularity the circumstances constituting” the fraud.

“Averments of fraud must be accompanied by the who, what, when, where, and how of the misconduct charged,” said Manglona, citing precedent.

Manglona said a plaintiff must “set forth more than the neutral facts necessary to identify the transaction” and explain “what is false or misleading about a statement, and why it is false.”

Loh’s original claims were for violations of the FLSA and Minimum Wage Hour Act, and conversion and fraud.

IPI, through counsel Kelley M. Butcher, then moved the court to dismiss Loh’s Commonwealth wage claim and claim for fraud.

Manglona, however, ruled that because amendment may not be futile, Loh is allowed to file an amended complaint to plead fraud.

In the same order, Manglona dismissed as untimely Loh’s claims for violation of the Commonwealth’s Minimum Wage and Hour Act.

The judge said because amendment would be futile, they are dismissed with prejudice. That means Loh cannot re-file the two claims.

At the hearing last Feb. 14 on IPI’s motion to dismiss, Loh, through counsel Fitzgerald, conceded that her Commonwealth Minimum Wage and Court Act claims are untimely.

Manglona did not dismiss Loh’s other two Minimum Wage Hour Act violation claims that are on the federal basis.

Loh is a citizen of Singapore. She currently resides there.

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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