U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood has reassigned to District Court Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona the lawsuit filed against the owners and management of the defunct Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino filed by their former foreign workers.
Manglona had disqualified herself from the case on Dec. 7, 2016, because of a conflict and assigned the case to her.
In an order Friday, Tydingco-Gatewood said that Manglona had informed her that the conflict no longer exists and that she is available to preside over the case.
“Efficient case management and expenditure of judicial resources favor assignment or reassignment of cases, when possible, to a judge appointed to sit in the district in which the case is being heard,” the Guam judge said.
Last August, Tydingco-Gatewood made a default judgment against the owners and management of the defunct Tinian Dynasty.
At the recommendation Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy, Tydingco-Gatewood granted the workers’ motion to strike the answers of Tinian Dynasty’s owners and management: Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investment Ltd. and Mega Stars Overseas Ltd.
Tydingco-Gatewood said no objections were filed by any party.
In her recommendation, Kennedy stated that it is well established that “a corporation may appear in the federal courts only through licensed counsel.”
In this case, Kennedy said, the court informed defendants on several occasions after the withdrawal of their lawyers both in 2016 and 2018, that they may face sanctions, including stricken answers and a default judgment, if they fail to obtain counsel.
“Yet no counsel has appeared to represent defendants since Jan. 16, 2018, when defendants’ second counsel was permitted to withdraw from the case,” Kennedy said.
Samuel Mok is counsel for Eric F. Dona and six other co-plaintiffs. There are 15 named plaintiffs in this case.
In their lawsuit, Dona and co-plaintiffs alleged that the owners and management of Tinian Dynasty lied to them about their immigration status—that they were legally authorized to work despite the denial of their CW-1 petitions.
The total outstanding liabilities of the owner of Tinian Dynasty has now climbed to over $250 million—excluding the $75 million in civil penalty assessed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network—and is continuously increasing due to late payment penalties and interest.