IPI has no HR records of former Guam senator

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ALTHOUGH listed as one of the 68 custodians of Imperial Pacific International, former Guam Sen. Carmen Fernandez is not on the human resource records of IPI, according to a court disclosure on Thursday.

Fernandez, who is also a former president of Northern Marianas College, was listed as the sole member of IPI in its federal tax filing from 2016 to 2018.

IPI human resource specialist Ryan Litulumar made the disclosure through a declaration to support a certification that IPI complied with a recent court order in the lawsuit of seven construction workers alleging labor violations.

Carmen Fernandez

Litulumar listed four individuals, including Fernandez, with no records in the IPI system. The others are Wenjin Wang, Jianmin Xu, and Josepher Zhou.Litulumar was designated by IPI to compile a list of separation dates for 68 custodians and to compile a list of company-issued phones.

In his declaration, Litulumar said IPI “found no records of these individuals in our system and IPI does not believe they were our employees with the possible exception of Ms. Fernandez.”

Sixty-three other custodians were listed as either active, separated or furloughed. Also on the list were the separation or furlough dates.

But the list has 67 names of custodians only and not 68 as ordered by the court.

As for IPI company-issued phones, Litulumar said their list was compiled on March 17, 2020.

“The human resources department is in the process of updating our list of company-issued phones and we will have the list complete by this Friday for IPI’s counsel to submit to plaintiffs,” Litulumar said.

Saying that IPI was not in compliance with a previous stipulated order, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered IPI to produce its bank records and the list of employment separation dates of 68 custodians by June 1 to the plaintiffs.

The judge also ordered IPI to pay sanctions of $2,000 a day from May 17, 2020 until compliance has been satisfied.

IPI attorney Michael Dotts on June 1 filed a certification regarding the production of bank records and a list of employment dates of the 68 custodians.

Dotts said he had emailed the bank records of IPI to the plaintiffs.

“IPI is in the process of preparing a privilege log within the 7-day deadline,” he added.

Dotts said IPI has complied with the court order with the exception of the updated list of company-issued phones from March to June 2020 “which IPI hopes to produce on Friday, June 5, 2020.”

Second status report

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Aaron Halegua, stated in the second status report he filed in court that “IPI has violated or set to violate many aspects of that order.”

A hearing will be held Friday, June 5, 2020 at 8:30 a.m.

Halegua said IPI failed to produce complete corporate bank records from 2015 to 2017, including not providing checks issued by IPI.  “The relevance of the checks is obvious: a primary reason for IPI to produce the bank records was to show IPI’s payments to MCC, Gold Mantis, and other vendors.”

MCC and Gold Mantis are the former IPI contractor and subcontractor who were the employers of the seven plaintiffs. MCC and Gold Mantis were named co-defendants in the workers’ lawsuit.

Halegua said IPI also failed to provide either a separation date for all 67 custodians or an explanation as to why it is not providing such a date.

Moreover, he said, IPI failed to provide a new ACONEX password, and failed to produce two copies of its Electronic Storage Information or ESI data to plaintiffs by June 4, 2020, or even start that process by paying Litigation Edge.

ACONEX is a special program used for architectural and building design. Besides drawings, the ACONEX data contained notes and messages.

Litigation Edge is a vendor hired by IPI to download ESI requested by the plaintiffs.

Halegua said, “The information provided by IPI pertaining to company-issued phones calls into question the veracity of its prior representations to this court.”

He said IPI is attempting to relitigate the protocol for reviewing the ESI that was ordered by the court on May 28, 2020 “by insisting at the eleventh hour that it will not produce the ESI data unless it has the right to conduct a privilege review prior to plaintiffs viewing the data.”

The lawyer added, “This last-minute attempt at delaying the process should be rejected, and the court should deem that IPI has waived its right to assert privilege over any of the ESI data held by Litigation Edge.”

Halegua said given the continued and persistent violations of IPI, “plaintiffs renew their request for a default [judgment]” in their favor.

He said the requested discovery is still needed for assessing damages and litigating against other defendants.

Halegua proposed a series of orders to address “IPI’s discovery abuses”:

  • Bank records. Plaintiffs request that the court order IPI to obtain a comprehensive set of all bank records, including checks, for all 12 accounts from the Bank of Saipan and Bank of Hawaii from August 1, 2014 until the present, and certify within 24 hours that it has made the request and tendered any payment.
  • ESI data. Plaintiffs request that the court order IPI to certify within 24 hours that it has: paid to Litigation Edge $20,000 plus any outstanding balance; paid to Plaintiffs $2,000; instructed Litigation Edge to export all of its processed data and metadata, as discussed with Plaintiffs, to an…account controlled by Plaintiffs within six calendar days, without any further conditions.
  • Privilege. Plaintiffs request that the court order that IPI has waived its right to assert any privilege concerning the ESI data.
  • ACONEX. IPI provide Plaintiffs a new login for the ACONEX system within 24 hours.
  • Phones. IPI provide a declaration by someone with personal knowledge as to the source of the “Older List” of mobile phones, the accuracy of the information, where the document was stored or maintained, and other pertinent details.

As for attorneys’ fees, Halegua said because of the disobedience of IPI to the May 28 court order, plaintiffs’ attorneys once again have expended more time in an effort to make IPI comply.

Specifically, “plaintiffs’ counsel has spent significant time reviewing IPI’s deficient bank records, responding to IPI’s letters, communicating with Litigation Edge, researching IPI’s position on doing a privilege review or filing an appeal, and preparing this status report,” Halegua said.

 “Upon finding that IPI has violated the court’s order plaintiffs should be awarded attorneys’ fees as sanction,” he added.

Halegua, who is based in New York, and Saipan attorney Bruce Berline represent the following plaintffs: Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan.

 

 

 

 

 

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