Exxon Mobil Corporation v Corporacion Cimex SA et al - USDCDC Civil Action No 2019-1277 - Memorandum Opinion and Order by Judge Amit P Mehta - 20 April 2021
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
In 1996, Congress enacted the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, 22 U.S.C. §§ 6021 et seq., also known as the LIBERTAD, or Helms-Burton, Act. Title III of the LIBERTAD Act creates for U.S. nationals a private right of action against any "person" who traffics in property expropriated by the government of Cuba after January 1, 1959, and defines "person" to include any agency or instrumentality of a foreign state. The Act, however, contains a unique provision that authorizes the President to suspend the private right of action. Every presidential administration since the statute's passage had done just that. But then the Trump Administration announced that it would lift the suspension in May 2019. That action opened the door for this novel lawsuit.
Over sixty years ago, Plaintiff Exxon Mobil Corporation ("Exxon") held an interest in various oil and gas assets located in Cuba that were owned and operated by its wholly owned subsidiaries. The government of Cuba expropriated those assets in 1960. Exxon now seeks compensation under Title III of the LIBERTAD Act from the Cuban state-owned entities that allegedly traffic in its confiscated properties: Defendants Corporación CIMEX S.A. (Cuba) ("CIMEX"), Corporación CIMEX S.A. (Panama) ("CIMEX (Panama)"), and Unión Cuba- Petróleo ("CUPET"). Exxon seeks entry of an actual damages award of over $71 million plus treble damages.
Defendants now move to dismiss Exxon's complaint, arguing that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute. For the reasons that follow, the court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss as to CIMEX, defers ruling as to CUPET and CIMEX (Panama), and allows limited jurisdictional discovery as to CUPET and CIMEX (Panama).