Title III Lawsuits – And Law Firms – Pile Up As Cuban Exiles Hope For Compensation

Dec 3, 2019

Last spring President Trump let Cuban-Americans sue for compensation for their confiscated property in Cuba. The so-called Title III lawsuits seem to be piling up.

Title III is part of the 1996 statute of the U.S embargo against Cuba known as the Helms–Burton Act. It lets Americans, in this case mostly Cuban-Americans, sue businesses operating in Cuba on property taken from them by the communist revolution.

When President Trump activated Title III this year, it was unclear if plaintiffs would jump at the chance to file those lawsuits. That’s largely because it was uncertain they’d be able to collect damages.

But so far there is a load of litigation. The U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council in New York reports 20 suits have been filed involving 72 plaintiffs and 67 defendants.

Those being sued include foreign companies like Meliá Hotels of Spain, but also U.S. firms like American Airlines, Carnival Cruises and online travel agent Expedia.com. Those companies insist their Cuban operations were lawfully approved by U.S. officials. But a Miami judge recently refused to dismiss those suits.

There is one guaranteed winner: the legal profession. Almost 30 law firms have been hired in the suits, including Miami firms such as Akerman. The U.S.-Cuba Trade Council estimates they’ve already put in a total of more than $4 million in billable hours.

The European Union is asking U.S. law firms to assist in cases involving European companies like Meliá.