Federal court upholds trafficking lawsuit against IPI, contractors

The federal district court on Saipan on Tuesday issued a decision allowing the forced labor and human trafficking claims of seven Chinese construction workers to proceed.

"We are glad that the plaintiffs, who have already suffered so much, are one step closer to having their day in court,” said Aaron Halegua, who represents the seven plaintiffs, with Bruce Berline as his co-counsel.

The lawsuit, filed by seven workers from China, involves claims arising from the plaintiffs' work on the Imperial Pacific casino and resort project on Saipan. The claims were filed against Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) and its contractors MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co. and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI).

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied the defendants' motions to dismiss, holding that the plaintiffs have plausible claims against their former employers

The first amended complaint brings claims for forced labor and human trafficking under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the CNMI Anti-Trafficking Act, as well as claims under CNMI law for the physical injuries the plaintiffs suffered on the project.

Plaintiffs are seeking monetary compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages. Each of these claims is brought against the three defendants in the case.

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