Fraud, 2 other claims vs Imperial Pacific dismissed

The federal court has dismissed three claims, including fraud, in the lawsuit filed by a former VIP services host against the Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino.

At a hearing last Thursday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona Court granted Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s motion to dismiss Shirley Loh’s second and fourth claims for violations of the Commonwealth Minimum Wage and Hourly Act.

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

Manglona also granted IPI’s motion to dismiss without prejudice Loh’s fifth cause of action—fraud.

Dismissal with prejudice means Loh may amend her complaint to support her fraud claim.

Manglona gave Loh until Feb. 28 to file her amended complaint.

The judge advised the parties that she will be issuing a written decision based on her rulings that day, Thursday.

Loh is suing IPI for allegedly not paying her minimum wage and overtime wages and refusing to give her customers’ tips.

Loh’s claims are for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Minimum Wage Hour Act and conversion and fraud.

Loh is demanding that IPI be made to pay her the minimum wage and overtime pay. She also wants her share of tips.

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

Butcher said the Commonwealth wage claim as alleged in the complaint should be dismissed with prejudice as they are barred by the statute of limitations.

Dismissal with prejudice means Loh can no longer re-file the wage claims.

Butcher said the fraud claim should be dismissed as it fails to allege all of the elements of fraud and fails to allege fraud with particularity.

Loh is a citizen of Singapore. She currently lives there. She worked for IPI from Oct. 15, 2015, to August 2016.

In Loh’s opposition to the motion to dismiss, counsel William Fitzgerald insisted that the fraud claim is clear and plausible or convincing.

Fitzgerald, however, concedes that Loh’s Commonwealth wage claim brought under local law should be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.

On Loh’s fraud and conversion claim, Fitzgerald said money was given by customers to IPI with the direction that it be given to VIP hosts as “tips.”

Fitzgerald Loh’s supervisor, Yuki Xia, acting on behalf of IPI, received this money and fraudulently converted it.

According to the minutes of Thursday’s hearing, at the start of the proceeding Manglona informed the parties that she had received and reviewed the filings and advised them that she was inclined to grant the motion to dismiss the two causes of action.

Manglona also stated she was inclined to dismiss the fraud claim, but would allow Loh to amend the complaint as to that issue.

Fitzgerald stated the local wage and hour claim was conceded to be beyond the statute of limitation, but not the federal.

Manglona stated that this was as to second and fourth causes of action and these are the local CNMI Minimum Wage and Hourly act violation claims or unpaid minimum wage and overtime.

As to the fifth cause of action, Manglona was inclined to grant the motion to dismiss as to fraud and not as to the conversion claim.

Both Fitzgerald and Butcher accepted the court’s rulings.

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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