A Chinese casino operator has been ordered to pay a total of $5.9 million in damages to seven construction workers for what was described by the court as “appalling” and “egregious” mistreatment during the construction of the Imperial Pacific casino resort in the Northern Mariana Island.
The court’s ruling against the gambling company Imperial Pacific International (IPI) was handed down at the beginning of the week by Chief US District Judge Ramona Villagomez Manglona.
According to the court’s findings, the seven workers who suffered the mistreatment were lured to the island after being promised good working conditions and wages. However, although they paid considerable recruitment fees, they were told to enter the Northern Mariana Islands which is part of the commonwealth of the US, as tourists. As it was revealed by the case, the seven workers had their passports confiscated, having been left without legal status.
Also, none of the promises of good working conditions was real. The workers were housed in rat-infested dormitories. Their working shifts lasted between 12 and 24 hours and if they disobeyed orders or complained about something, they were threatened with death. Furthermore, their managers refused to get them treated for serious injuries they suffered as a result of working at the dangerous work site. At times of inspections held by government officials into dormitories and worksites, the seven workers were ordered to hide.
Plaintiffs Sought $11.6 Million for the Damages They Suffered While Working at the Casino Construction Site
As announced by the court, six of the workers are set to receive $300,000 in pain and suffering damages for their injuries during the time they worked for the casino company, including a crushed finger, a partially-severed finger and scalded hand. The seventh individual, Tianming Wang, who has not been able to work since he suffered a severe burn that remained untreated, is set to get $400,000 as compensation.
According to the plaintiffs’ claims, they suffered damages of about $11.6 million. However, the District Court Judge awarded $5.9 million for their injuries, partly considering the fact that two contractors on the Imperial Pacific casino resort – MCC International Saipan Ltd and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration – had previously reached a settlement out of court, which left IPI as the only remaining defendant in the case.
Plaintiffs were awarded $425 as compensation for emotional distress for each day they worked on the Northern Mariana Islands in 2016 and 2017.
Judge Ramona Villagomez Manglona found that Imperial Pacific International drew benefit from being able to quickly find foreign construction workers who agreed to work long working hours for a small amount of money while living in bad conditions. The District Judge further noted that the casino operator was deeply involved in the process of selection and supervision of the contractors, and was aware of its contractors’ policies and exploitative and illegal practices.