Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC has hired former NMI Bar president Sean E. Frink as its counsel in the lawsuit filed by seven former workers against the company and its contractor and subcontractor over the alleged injuries they suffered during accidents at the worksite of IPI’s resort/casino project in Garapan.
Frink and Catherine J. Cachero, of the Marianas Legal Strategy Group LLC, notified the U.S. District Court for the NMI Monday of their appearance as counsel for IPI in the case.
Frink and Cachero said their co-counsel in this case is Kelley Butcher, who has been actively representing IPI prior to their involvement in this matter. The lawyers said Butcher will continue to be involved in this case.
The plaintiffs—Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Quingchun Xu, and Xiyang Du—are suing IPI, MCC and MCC’s subcontractor, Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC.
The plaintiffs, who are all Chinese nationals, are suing the defendants for alleged forced labor in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Re-authorization Act, forced labor in violation of the CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act, negligence, and liability for employees of subcontractor.
The workers alleged, among other things, that they were forced to work long hours for below minimum wage under extremely dangerous conditions at the casino-resort worksite.
The plaintiffs’ counsels are Saipan lawyer Bruce Berline and New York-based attorney Aaron Halegua.
In its response to the lawsuit, IPI said any wage claims by the plaintiffs are barred because they voluntarily illegally entered the CNMI to work.