THE $1,000 daily sanction against former Imperial Pacific International LLC chair Lijie Cui will continue to accrue, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI said in an order Monday.

The sanction is related to Cui’s failure to comply with a previous court order regarding Electronically Stored Information or ESI.

Cui is a third-party witness in the lawsuit of seven construction workers against IPI and its former contractor and subcontractor, MCC International and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, both of which have already settled with the plaintiffs: Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan. 

Because the $5.4 million default judgment in favor of the plaintiffs against IPI remained unsatisfied, all ESI data held by the former IPI chair remain relevant to the proceeding, the court said.

Following a stipulation from the parties, Judge Manglona ordered that the deadline for Cui to submit her expert reports and declarations is Jan. 22, 2022 at 5 p.m.

 She said the deadline for the plaintiffs to submit their replies and declarations is Feb. 3, 2022 at 5 p.m.

The judge set an evidentiary hearing for Feb. 8, 2022 at 8:30 a.m.

“Daily sanctions imposed by this court shall continue to accrue during this period,” Judge Manglona added.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Bruce Berline and Aaron Halegua while Cui is represented by attorney Joey San Nicolas.

According to San Nicolas, his client recently hired a forensic expert and investigator to assist her in the upcoming evidentiary hearing.

But he said it requires additional time for the forensic expert and investigator to independently analyze Cui’s iPhone and prior technical reports and declarations submitted in this case.

The increased per diem sanction of $1,000 a day began on Dec. 30, 2021.

The federal court has repeatedly found Cui not in compliance with a previous preservation and contempt order regarding ESI that she created or used, including emails, and ESI data sent or received by others on her behalf.


Bryan Manabat studied criminal justice at Northern Marianas College. He covers the community, tourism, business, police and court beats.

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