U.S. Capital

Bay Area Law Firm Sues for Exploitation of Celebrated Sushi Chef Tomonori Nagai During Covid-19 Pandemic

May 23, 2020

San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) May 22, 2020 – On May 22, 2020, on behalf of multiple employees, Sanjiv N. Singh, APLC (“SNS PLC”) filed a wrongful termination and wage and hour employment lawsuit against a Singaporean publicly traded company Lifebrandz Ltd. who appear to have deliberately and systematically exploited Celebrated Sushi Chef Tomonori Nagai and several other U.S. based employees working at the newly opened Sushi Nagai restaurant in Downtown San Francisco.

Investigations by SNS PLC appear to confirm allegations that a Singaporean publicly traded company, Lifebrandz Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary Lifebrandz USA, Inc. and their CEO Hiroyuki Saito, wrongfully terminated and failed to pay wages to Chef Nagai as well as several other employees including Sunny Noah and Victor Santana, both residents of San Francisco. Investigations also appear to confirm allegations that Lifebrandz may have made false and misleading statements to authorities in Singapore to conceal its misconduct in the United States.

Chef Nagai is a well respected, critically acclaimed omakase chef who previously worked for Michelin star winner and celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto in Honolulu and Michelin star winner Shinji Kanesaka in his Singapore establishment. The lawsuit filed by SNS PLC alleges that Lifebrandz lured Chef Nagai to the United States but then ultimately exploited his name and work, subjecting him to numerous wage and hour violations and ultimately wrongfully terminating him in the midst of the pandemic. Lifebrandz is alleged and reported to have then engaged in intimidating and threatening tactics against Chef Nagai and the U.S. team, forbidding them from even setting up an employee GoFundMe page during the pandemic, and ultimately withholding payment owed to employees including Chef Nagai for work already done.

While domestically Lifebrandz claimed to have no funds to pay its employees and rectify months of wage and hour violations, SNS PLC has learned that on May 12, 2020 Lifebrandz reassured the Singapore Securities Exchange that it was solvent, and that its controlling shareholder Bounty Blue Capital Ltd. was extending Lifebrandz millions of dollars in interest-free loans to assure Lifebrandz continued global operations. More shockingly, SNS PLC has learned that Bounty Blue is wholly-owned by Mr. Hiroyuki Saito. SNS PLC has named Mr. Saito individually in the Sushi Nagai lawsuit because investigations revealed Mr. Saito to most likely be the individual allegedly responsible for luring Chef Nagai to the United States and showed Mr. Saito to be likely personally responsible for the alleged wage and hour violations and the alleged wrongful retaliatory termination of the Sushi Nagai workforce.

Sanjiv Singh, the US litigator representing Chef Nagai and other Sushi Nagai employees, commented “The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people, sadly. Lifebrandz conduct appears to me to be deplorable — they came to California, appear to have brazenly used Chef Nagai, and appear to have exploited other local sushi industry workers in the United States for their benefit. Other small businesses in San Francisco have advocated for their employees while weathering this storm. Lifebrandz, in my opinion, used its employees shamelessly.”

About SNS PLC:

SNS PLC is a full service litigation firm in San Francisco California representing consumers, businesses, and individuals in a wide range of matters including bad faith insurance coverage denials, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, employment, breach of contract, fraud, commercial torts, and complex commercial disputes. Counselor Singh has been interviewed and quoted by numerous major news agencies including Bloomberg, The New York Times, and BBC. Sanjiv Singh was one of the lead litigators coordinating efforts to resolve claims against The Boeing Company for the crash of Lion Air Flight JT610, and more recently is co-lead counsel in a high profile double fatality case against the DCFS in Los Angeles County. SNS PLC is also one of the first firms to file bad faith, breach of contract lawsuits against insurance companies such as State Farm, Hartford, and Farmers for denial of COVID-19 business interruption claims.