Halegua: IPI has ‘grown comfortable disregarding court orders’

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ATTORNEY Aaron Halegua is asking the federal court to “treat the failure of Imperial Pacific International LLC and its executives to comply with court order as a contempt of court.”

And given the ineffectiveness of prior monetary sanctions against the company, Halegua said the court should impose stronger sanctions.

He wants the court to issue an order to show cause why (i) IPI should not be held in contempt; (ii) why IPI chief executive Donald R. Browne should not be held in contempt and face sanctions, including incarceration, until the attorney’s fee award is paid; and (iii) why additional contempt sanctions should not be imposed.

Attorneys Halegua and Bruce Berline represent seven construction workers who have sued IPI and its former contractor and subcontractor MCC International, LLC, and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI).

The plaintiffs — Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan — are alleging labor violations and human trafficking.

They have asked the  court to issue an order awarding them $3.86 million in compensatory damages and $7.72 million in punitive damages.

On Aug. 25, 2020, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered IPI to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees in the amount of $92,834.25 within 30 days.

Judge Manglona later granted a motion by IPI seeking more time to pay the sanction based on the  declaration of its CEO, Browne.

She ordered the fee award to be paid by Oct. 24, 2020 and directed IPI to liquidate assets in order to comply.

Halegua said IPI did not pay the fee award.

“Despite a litany of monetary and non-monetary sanctions already imposed on IPI in this litigation —including an accruing fine of $2,000 per day, over $120,000 in attorneys’ fee awards, and an entry of default — IPI directors and executives have grown comfortable  disregarding the orders of the court,” Halegua said in his recent motion.

He also noted that IPI has not filed any response to the plaintiffs’ previous notice of non-compliance by IPI on Oct. 27, 2020.

According to Halegua, the plaintiffs are “forced” to move the court to issue a show cause order directing IPI to explain why an order should not be entered to hold the casino investor and its CEO in contempt for failing to comply with a previous court order. The court should also order the U.S. Marshals Service to hold Browne in custody until the fee award is paid, Halegua said.

He also asked the court for an order requiring IPI to provide the plaintiffs with information related to its assets and efforts to liquidate them; to command IPI to file with the court a detailed plan for liquidating its gaming equipment, vehicles, or other sufficient assets to pay the fee award.

In addition, he said, the court should notify IPI personnel that future noncompliance will result in holding the responsible individuals in contempt and the imposition of sanctions, including fines and incarceration.

Moreover, the court should award the plaintiffs attorney’s fees for their preparation of this motion, Halegua said.

IPI is represented by attorney Michael Dotts while Gold Mantis and MCC International have retained attorneys Tiberius Mocanu and  Robert T. Torres as their respective legal counsel.




November 2020 pssnewsletter

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