FEDERAL COURT ON SAIPAN SAYS
The federal district court on Saipan decided yesterday to allow the forced labor and human trafficking claims of seven Chinese construction workers against casino operator Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC and its two contractors to proceed.
The case, Wang, et al. v. Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC, et al., 18 Civ. 0030, involves claims arising from the plaintiffs’ work on the Imperial Pacific casino and resort project on Saipan.
The first amended complaint brings claims for forced labor and human trafficking under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act, as well as claims under CNMI law for the physical injuries the plaintiffs suffered on the project.
Plaintiffs are seeking monetary compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages. Each of these claims is brought against the three defendants in the case: Imperial Pacific International, MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC.
Imperial Pacific International is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based company, Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited.
MCC International Saipan is alleged to be a subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned conglomerate and was a contractor on the project.
Gold Mantis, another contractor on the project, is alleged to be the subsidiary of a company traded on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
On April 30, 2019, the defendants filed motions to dismiss the various claims against them. However, in a decision dated June 24, 2019, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied all of the defendants’ motions. The court found that “…plaintiffs have stated a plausible [forced labor] claim against each defendant.”
Each of the three defendants must file an answer to the first amended complaint within 14 days.
The seven construction workers are represented by Bruce Berline of Berline & Associates, LLC, a law firm on Saipan, and Aaron Halegua of Aaron Halegua, PLLC, a law firm in New York City.
Halegua issued the following statement in response to the decision: “We are glad that the plaintiffs, who have already suffered so much, are one step closer to having their day in court.” (PR)