The Trump Administration has fully implemented Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows suits to proceed in U.S. courts against companies that do business in Cuba and profit from the use of property expropriated after the 1959 Communist Revolution. Earlier this year, I posted the following illustration of how such a suit plays out:
An example: let’s say “Autohersteller GmbH“, a fictional German carmaker, wants to develop a parts plant outside Havana, and the Cuban state grants a 99-year lease to the land on which they build it. Prior to 1959, the plot of land was owned by a group of citizens loyal to President Fulgencio Batista; after his overthrow, the Castro government seized the land and title thereto.
Sixty years later, those citizens and their kids now live in Fort Lauderdale, and if the Trump Administration reverses a quarter-century of waivers, they’ll be marching into the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and filing suit. Not against the Cuban government– there’s no realistic mechanism for that.**
Instead, they’ll be suing Autohersteller GmbH for damages under Helms-Burton.
And I continued, with an admonishment:
Again, set aside any discussion of the practical impacts of the statute; but recognize that the only proper way to serve that company in Germany is by filing a Hague Service Request. HBA establishes a cause of action (and, necessarily, jurisdiction) but does not override the procedural rules applicable to serving overseas defendants. It does not supersede the mandatory and exclusive nature of the Hague Service Convention. And it does not dispense with the defendants’ due process right to proper notice.
Plaintiffs, do it the right way, and remove at least one obstacle to an eventual verdict.
Let the tsunami begin…