In May 2021, a U.S. federal court entered a US $5.91 million default judgment (available here) in favor of seven Chinese construction workers that were subjected to forced labor by the Chinese-owned casino operator Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC (“IPI”) on the Pacific island of Saipan, part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. IPI appeared in the case, but disobeyed the court’s orders to preserve and produce e-discovery. The court’s judgment awarded $2.95 million in compensatory damages to the seven plaintiffs and an additional $2.95 million in punitive damages.
The court described IPI’s mistreatment of the workers as “appalling,” and noted that “IPI was the driving force” behind the “egregious conditions” faced by the plaintiffs, all “while benefiting from” that exploitation. The plaintiffs had previously reached settlements with the subsidiaries of two Chinese contractors on the project, MCC (a state-owned firm) and Gold Mantis (a publicly-traded company). Join us for a discussion of the case with Aaron Halegua, plaintiffs’ counsel, and combating forced labor in the construction industry.