By Nancy I. Maanao
Federal Judge Ramona V. Manglona yesterday threatened to throw Imperial Pacific International chairwoman Ciu Li Jie, CEO Don Browne, and every other member of the Board of Directors and the IPI executive team in jail if IPI continues to ignore her orders.
She also threatened to fine Mr. Browne $500 per day of non-compliance, and any other IPI official $2,000 per day of non-compliance.
Ms. Manglona sanctioned IPI on August 25, 2020 for its withholding of discovery documents in the Wang v. Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI), LLC civil case in the U.S. District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands. The sanction also was for noncompliance of her prior orders.
IPI initially was supposed to pay $93,834.25 to plaintiff Tianming Wang's attorneys by September 24, 2020. Mr. Browne asked for an extension on the payment, and Ms. Manglona granted his request to pay by October 24.
The judge has had enough: 'Can't afford the fine? Sell your assets!'
"The Court explicitly noted, 'as discussed in prior proceedings, IPI does have assets in the CNMI that could be liquidated so that its lawful debts can be satisfied,'" Ms. Manglona wrote in an unprecedented order threatening jail time in a civil case. "The Court stated that no further extensions would be granted because 'the Court has previously notified IPI of the possibility of needing to liquidate some of its assets or direct available cash flow to satisfy court orders rather than paying other expenses."
Ms. Manglona wasted no words in a terse Order to Show Cause against IPI in the Gold Mantis case, reminding IPI that she ORDERED THE COMPANY TO LIQUIDATE ITS ASSETS to pay for the fine. She reemphasized "that IPI has violated numerous prior discovery-related orders, which resulted in the Court finding IPI in civil contempt," and ordered fines of $2,000 per day that continue to accrue.
"IPI still has not complied with the Court's prior orders," Ms. Manglona wrote. "In other words, monetary sanctions against IPI have proven insufficient to compel its directors and executives to take the steps necessary to comply with the orders of the Court."
Don't mess with Ramona Manglona
Now that the threat of fines against IPI has failed to force IPI to comply with the Court, Ms. Manglona is upping the ante, and ordering IPI to explain why she should not throw Ms. Jie, Mr. Browne, and any and all of its employees in jail for thumbing their noses at her Court.
Among her orders "to show cause in writing, no later than Friday, December 4, 2020," are:
"Finding Donald R. Browne, the CEO of IPI, in contempt for IPI's failure to comply with the Fee Award Order;"
"Ordering Donald R. Browne personally to pay a fine of $500 per day until the Fee Award Order is paid in full;
"Ordering that if a certification that the Fee Award Order has been paid in full is not filed with seven (7) days of this Order, the U.S. Marshals shall take Donald R. Browne into custody until the Court determines that the Fee Award Order has been paid in full;"
"Notifying all IPI directors, officers, executives, employees, or other agents that a failure to comply with this Order shall result in a finding of contempt and imposition of sanctions against any responsible individual, including but not limited to a personal fine of up to $2,000 per day and incarceration until the contempt is cured."
Mr. Browne should not be surprised by the judge's ire. On November 20, he taunted Ms. Manglona publicly, telling the Marianas Variety he'll go to jail before he complies with her orders to pay the fines before paying any other IPI expense.
It looks like Ms. Manglona is taking him up on his offer. Only this time, she's going after his boss, too.