US Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against MSC Cruises

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The Helms-Burton lawsuit against MSC Cruises has been dismissed by a federal judge in Miami. Judge Beth Bloom of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida approved the MSC Cruises’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit alleging the line trafficked in stolen property by using the Havana cruise terminal.

Havana Docks Corp. sued Swiss company MSC Cruises S.A. and MSC Cruises USA on Aug. 27, 2019, under the Libertad Act of Title III of Helms-Burton. The plaintiff, an American citizen had made the claim to the waterfront property, the Havana Cruise Port Terminal where cruise ships of various companies, including the defendants, docked until banned by the Trump administration on June 5, 2019.

The dismissal was sought by MSC Cruises on four grounds — that the plaintiff failed to include sufficient allegations regarding alleged trafficking of the property; that the claim of trafficking fails as a matter of law; that Title III violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and that Title III’s remedy provision violates the Due Process Clause.

The plaintiff’s property interest was a leasehold that expired in 2004. MSC Cruises attorney’s argued that the Havana Docks Corp could only assert claims under Title III that allegedly took place before that date. MSC Cruises USA only began using the cruise terminal in December 2018.

Judge Bloom made note that the plaintiff owned a time-limited concession that it would have enjoyed until 2004.

“Thus, if defendants’ alleged activities had taken place between 1960 and 2004, they would have “trafficked” in plaintiff’s confiscated property under the Act. However, because there is no dispute that defendants’ allegedly unlawful conduct began in 2018, they did not traffic in plaintiff’s confiscated property,” Bloom said in her decision.

In granting the MSC Cruises’ motion, Bloom dismissed the complaint with prejudice, meaning the plaintiff is forbidden to file another suit based on the same grounds.

However, the dismissal may be appealed.

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