SAIPAN — Chief Judge Ramona Manglona of the District Court for the NMI has ordered Imperial Pacific International LLC Chairwoman Cui Li Jie to make a forensic copy of her cell phone, including all WeChat data, as well as her email accounts, messaging accounts or other electronically stored information or ESI.

"Ms. Cui shall make a forensic copy of any and all cell phones that she uses or has used in the past year (2020), including any and all data from her WeChat account, and preserve all other ESI data within ... (14) days of this order," Judge Manglona said on Friday.

The judge also ordered Cui Li Jie's attorney, Juan T. Lizama, to file a certification with the court that describes the search to identify any ESI data, and details regarding ESI data that exists. The attorney must also affirm that a forensic copy of any cellphones, including WeChat data, has been made and that all other ESI data has been preserved, the judge said.

The judge likewise permitted the plaintiffs to have a consultant verify that any ESI data, including the contents of the phone, were adequately preserved and that no data, particularly WeChat messages, was deleted prior to copying the data.

In addition, Judge Manglona directed Cui's counsel to retain the copies of any ESI data in his possession until the court orders otherwise.

In her issued order, the judge noted that plaintiffs' motion was supported by numerous references to the record in this case and other pending cases against IPI.

The court has determined that good and sufficient reasons exist to issue a preservation order, Judge Manglona added.

It was the plaintiffs' attorney, Aaron Halegua, who asked the federal court to issue an order requiring Cui to make a forensic copy of her cell phone.

Halegua noted that the IPI chairwoman did not oppose his motion.

Halegua and Bruce Berline are the lawyers of seven construction workers who sued IPI and its former contractor and subcontractor, MCC International and Gold Mantis, over labor and human trafficking allegations.

The plaintiffs are Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu and Duxin Yan. They have asked the federal court to issue an order awarding them $3.86 million in compensatory damages and $7.72 million in punitive damages.

The plaintiffs have already reached a settlement agreement with MCC International and Gold Mantis.

Judge Manglona previously found Cui in contempt of court for not complying with a subpoena.

As part of the sanctions against Cui, Judge Mangloan ordered the IPI chairwoman to pay the plaintiffs' attorneys fees and costs in the amount of $33,890.