IPI asks for dismissal of request for over $27M default judgment


Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC is opposing a former employee’s request for default judgment in the amount of over $27 million.

IPI, through its lawyer, Hannah A Bogen, filed its opposition in the U.S. District Court for the NMI against ex-employee Joshua Gray, who is suing IPI over alleged discriminatory hiring practices, and his motion for default judgment of over $27 million.

“While plaintiff has asserted that IPI retaliated and discriminated against him by terminating him, he has not provided any admissible evidence on which the court could conclude that he has proven damages against IPI. Accordingly, the court should not award the damages claimed and should decline to enter a default judgment,” the lawyer said.

In addition, IPI has sought the dismissal of Gray’s request for punitive damages because the plaintiff has failed to provide admissible evidence that he was terminated for discriminatory reasons.

“To warrant punitive damages, IPI’s conduct must be (1) intentional, and (2) engaged in ‘with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights’ of the plaintiff,” she said.

The lawyer also argued that taking into account other cases within the Ninth Circuit seeking damages, the plaintiff’s claim for $27,578,376 in punitive damages is out of line and warrants immediate dismissal.

“In the event that the court determines to award punitive damages, it should consider the approach taken by the Ninth Circuit in Bains LLC v. Arco Prod. In that case, a jury awarded $5 million in punitive damages based on findings that, on the basis of their national origin, Indian-born truckers were regularly called remarkably offensive names by a business partner, who also caused them to lose compensation, forced them to stand outside in the rain while refueling, and terminated their contract when they made a complaint. Despite this offensive and repeated behavior, the Ninth Circuit overturned the award as excessive, finding that such conduct ‘did not involve a threat ‘to life or limb’ as the damages suffered were primarily economic’ and remanded the case to state court with a suggested $300,000 to $450,000 damages range. Plaintiff’s claim for $27,578,376 in punitive damages should thus be quickly dismissed as thoroughly out of line with damages awarded in Ninth Circuit cases involving more severe and repeated conduct,” she stated.

Gray, who previously sued IPI on the grounds of wrongful termination in violation of public policy (immigration violations), wrongful failure to hire, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, has filed a motion for default judgment in the amount of over $27 million.

Gray, through his lawyer, Bruce Berline, claims that he is entitled to compensatory damages of back pay, front pay, lost future earnings/reputational harm, emotional distress, punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

“[Gray] requests back pay damages of $464,083.00, front pay damages of $1,475,685.00, [and] emotional distress damages of $2 million,” he said.

In addition, Berline asks that the court grant his client punitive damages that is seven times the amount of compensatory damages he is asking for. That’s roughly $27,578,376.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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