A US judge granted Carnival Corp.'s motion for judgment in a lawsuit alleging the company trafficked in stolen property under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act by using the dock at Santiago, Cuba.

Floridian Javier Garcia-Bengochea, a US citizen, holds a certified stake in the property, which was confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960. He received the stake from his cousin in Costa Rica, who inherited it from his brother in Cuba.

The will giving the stake to Garcia-Bengochea was executed in 2000.

Ownership to claim must be acquired before March 12, 1996

Justice James Lawrence King noted the Helms-Burton Act provides that, ‘[i]n the case of property confiscated before March 12, 1996, a United States national may not bring an action under this section on a claim to the confiscated property unless such national acquires ownership of the claim before March 12, 1996.’

King found ‘the legislative history clearly explains that Congress wanted “to eliminate any incentive that might otherwise exist to transfer claims to confiscated property to US nationals in order to take advantage of the remedy created.”‘ He said the plaintiff does not dispute that his cousin, a Costa Rican national, attempted to transfer his claim to a US national after Helms-Burton was enacted because the cousin had no ability to bring suit under Helms-Burton himself.

Since the judge decided no facts are in dispute, the case will not go to trial.

The plaintiff can appeal the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thanks to John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, for providing the court’s ruling.