Worker’s lawyers demand $199,227 in attorneys’ fees

Judge awards $132,677.84 in unpaid wages, damages to Chinese worker

The lawyers of a woman who was awarded by the federal court more than $132,000 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages are demanding more than $199,000 in attorneys’ fees.

Attorneys Mark B. Hanson, Bruce Berline, and Benjamin K. Petersburg, counsel for Yu Xuan, are also seeking payment of $15,974.50 in paralegal and staff services and $21,897.19 in costs.

The three lawyers submitted their attorneys’ fees and costs at the behest of U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona,who ordered them to file an accounting of fees and costs.

Hanson and Berline said the lodestar amount of $199,227.50 (653.9 hours x $250 an hour plus 204.3 hours x $175 an hour) in attorney fees were reasonably incurred in the prosecution of Xuan’s case against Joo Yeon Corp., Se Young Corp., and Yang-Tack Hwang.

Hanson and Berline are billing at $250 an hour, while Petersburg is billing at $175 an hour.

Hanson claimed that he spent 423.4 hours developing and drafting the claims, for substantial discovery efforts, with settlement negotiations, and with motions for substantial relief.

Berline claimed that he spent 230.5 hours on defending initial efforts of defendants to get Xuan’s claims dismissed.

Petersburg said he spent 204.3 hours assisting in discovery efforts and the conduct of various depositions, researching and drafting a dispositive motion, coordinating with interpreters, preparing for trial and assisting with various issues that arose during the bench trial.

The lawyers said they also enlisted the assistance of two paralegals at various times in the case.

The court recently awarded the 52-year-old Xuan $75,979.44 in unpaid wages and $56,698.40 in liquidated damages after her three former employers made her work an average of 13 hours each day.

Manglona found Joo Yeon Corp. (JYC), Se Young Corp. (SYC), and Yang-Tack Hwang liable to pay Xuan a total of $132,677.84.

Manglona determined that Xuan was neither paid the prevailing minimum wage nor overtime for those hours, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Commonwealth’s Minimum Wage and Hour Act, and her employment contract.

Xuan filed her civil action in 2012.

Xuan claimed she worked in excess of 18 hours each day despite being paid a flat fee of $800 per month. Defendants failed to keep time sheets or any other documentation of Xuan’s hours worked, and argued that Xuan worked far fewer hours than claimed.

Manglona conducted a 19-day bench trial in this case.

Manglona earlier determined that JYC, SYC, and Hwang were Xuan’s employers for purposes of the FLSA because Xuan worked for JYC as a tour driver, for SYC at its Seaman’s Restaurant, and reported directly to Hwang as her supervisor.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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