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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Attorneys representing Saipan trafficking case receive social justice fund

Lawyers representing seven Chinese workers in human trafficking case on Saipan have received a $40,000 grant from the Impact Fund, an advocacy program that supports human and civil rights cases.

“We are grateful for and encouraged by the grant from the Impact Fund. Although the defendants may deny the allegations made by the plaintiffs, this shows that others believe in the merit of our case,” Bruce Berline, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs who sued Imperial Pacific and two of its contractors, MCC and Gold Mantis.

On June 24, the federal court on Saipan denied the three defendants’ motions to dismiss the case, and ordered the defendants to file an answer to the plaintiffs’ allegations. On July 8, 2019, all three defendants filed an answer, largely denying the allegations and raising various affirmative defenses.

Bruce Berline photo courtesy of Facebook

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The parties will appear in court on Aug. 26 to set a schedule for depositions and other discovery in the case, as well as determine a date for trial.

“The grant will help ensure that we can take all the steps necessary to zealously litigate the case, including deposing all relevant parties and hiring highly-qualified expert witnesses,” Berline said.

Aaron Halegua

Berline’s con-counsel in the case is Aaron Halegua of Aaron Halegua, PLLC, a law firm in New York City.

The Impact Fund – a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, California – awards grants to legal services nonprofits, private attorneys, and/or small law firms who seek to advance justice in the areas of civil and human rights, environmental justice, and/or poverty law. Since its inception, the Impact Fund has awarded over $6.5 million, which has facilitated a wide range of impact litigation across the nation.



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