June 18, 2019

Class action filed under Libertad Act

The US citizen heirs of a Cuban hotel owner have filed a class action in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, claiming compensation under the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, also called the Libertad Act or the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, 22 USC § 6021 et seq.  Since April 17, 2019, US citizens have been able to exercise the statutory private right of action to sue foreign companies that “traffic” in property in Cuba that was formerly owned by US nationals.  The hotel was confiscated by the Cuban government in 1962, and has been operated by a Spanish hotel company since 2018.  The plaintiffs, purporting to represent a class of US citizens similarly situated, claim that the hotel operator and travel booking companies profit from advertising and facilitating travel to the hotel, and have never compensated them for ownership or use of the property. The defendant is a German travel booking company, Trivago GmbH.

Damages under the Libertad Act may equal the value of the confiscated property, and may be trebled if the defendant continues trafficking in the property 30 days after receiving notification of the trafficking claim.