On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, nearly $100,000 was donated in the Northern Mariana Islands, from residual settlement funds in the Doe v The GAP Inc. case in the U.S. District Court. The case was originally filed in 2001 before Judge Alex Munson to settle wage claims between garment workers and manufacturers on Saipan. The majority of the settlement funds were paid directly to the garment workers. A California accounting firm, in charge of making the first distribution to the workers, had retained a small reserve to pay unforeseen taxes and it recently concluded there are no further tax liabilities. These funds, plus a small remainder in the held-trust account of plaintiffs’ attorneys, were wired to Saipan.
The settlement agreement between the garment workers and manufacturers provides that any residual balance shall be donated to charity. In late 2013, the case was briefly re-opened to seek court approval in distributing the remaining funds. Advertisements were placed in the local newspapers, soliciting interest from qualified charities in the CNMI, with the closing date of Dec. 13, 2013. On Feb. 20, 2014, the District Court approved the selection of eligible charities and distribution of the donations to them by Timothy H. Bellas, the former chair of the Garment Oversight Board. (PR)