Ruling Against Carnival on Cuba Cruises Leads to Rash of Lawsuits
A lawsuit seeking to punish Carnival Corporation for doing business in Cuba using assets that were expropriated by the Fidel Castro government will move forward, a federal judge in Miami has ruled.
Javier Garcia-Bengochea, the descendant of a Cuban business owner, is suing the Miami-based cruise corporation under a newly activated provision of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act — or LIBERTAD Act — that allows U.S. nationals and naturalized Cubans to seek damages for property seized by Cuba’s government after the communist revolution in 1959. Garcia-Bengochea has a certified claim to port buildings and piers in Santiago de Cuba where Carnival Corp.’s cruise ships have docked since Barack Obama eased relations with the Castro government in 2016.
Carnival Corp. asked U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King to dismiss the case, arguing the company had sufficient permission from the U.S. Treasury Department to do business in Cuba. In his ruling Monday, King said he was “not persuaded.”
Carnival Corp. said it will continue to fight the case.
“We believe that we operated within the approved government process regarding Cuba,” said Roger Frizzell, a spokesperson for Carnival Corp. “We look forward to proving the merits of our case.” The company faces a similar lawsuit brought by Havana Docks Corporation, a U.S. company that says it is the rightful owner of port property in Havana. Carnival Corp.’s motion to dismiss that case is still pending.
Both lawsuits were filed in May shortly after the Trump administration announced that it would fully enforce the Helms-Burton Act, opening the floodgates for lawsuits against dozens of U.S. companies operating in Cuba. The move was part of a broader attempt to dissuade Cuba from backing Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro. In June, the Trump administration banned cruise ships from sailing from U.S. ports to Cuba.
“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to be the first to announce lawsuits under the Helms-Burton act against Carnival,” Garcia-Bengochea told the Miami Herald in May. “They were the first cruise line to traffic in our stolen properties so they deserve the ignominious distinction of being the first to be sued under the act.”
Following King’s ruling, Garcia-Bengochea filed lawsuits on Tuesday against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Royal Caribbean International and Havana Docks Corporation filed lawsuits against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Royal Caribbean International, and MSC Cruises.
Claims by both Garcia-Bengochea and Havana Docks were certified by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission in the early 1970s. Nearly 60 U.S. companies are doing business in Cuba under authorizations issued by the U.S. Treasury.
©2019 Miami Herald
Visit Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON - A circuit court judge in South Carolina heard more than two hours of oral arguments Friday in a lawsuit challenging the state GOP executive committee's vote last month to forgo a 2020 Republican presidential primary. In the end, Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman indicated her... Read More
The largest civil trial in U.S. history is scheduled to begin in a matter of days, putting those who made, marketed, distributed and dispensed prescription painkillers under the legal spotlight. But those on the front lines of the opioid epidemic are already looking beyond the courtroom... Read More
WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Friday relied heavily on procedural rules adopted at the start of the 116th Congress in holding that President Donald Trump cannot ignore a subpoena for his financial records from House Democrats. Those rules were significantly revamped by the Problem... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit claiming the state's policy on fossil fuels harms the constitutional rights of young Alaskans to a safe climate. In 2017, 16 young people filed suit over a state statute that says it is... Read More
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lawyers in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are taking a keen interest in a Missouri class action lawsuit that alleges a conspiracy among national real estate brokers to charge inflated fees, noting in a filing this week that it is investigating the... Read More
WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Boston ruled Tuesday that while "not perfect" Harvard University's admissions process does not discriminate against Asian Americans. U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs' ruling comes in a 2014 lawsuit filed by the group Students for Fair Admissions, which accused the... Read More