A US court has decided to remove the Spanish hotel chain Melia from a lawsuit filed against it under Title III of the controversial Helms-Burton Act against Cuba, the magazine Preferente published today.
According to this Spanish publication, specialized in tourism, Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, from the southern U.S. state of Florida, suspended yesterday a trial scheduled for January 10 in which a family's claim about the use of one of the hotels managed by Melia on the Caribbean island was to be analyzed.
The magazine, which said it had access to the document of the judicial order, informed that the same document also removes from the case online travel booking agencies such as Trivago, and the Cuban hotel groups Gran Caribe, Cubanacan and Gaviota, Prensa Latina reported.
According to Preferente, Melia filed a motion with the Florida court on Dec. 31 to end the litigation, a request that was granted only two days later by the judge hearing the case.
The process should be initiated next week, when the sides had to select a mediator and schedule a time, date and place to meet, and a few days later, on January 31, the pleadings were to be filed.
As part of its growing hostility towards Cuba, on May 2, 2019, the Donald Trump administration activated Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which allows Americans to file lawsuits in U.S. courts against individuals and entities, including those from third countries, who invest in Cuban territory in properties nationalized after the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959.
As a result of that activation, that same month members of the Mata family filed a collective claim in the federal court of the Southern District of Florida, to request compensation for the use of the Melia San Carlos hotel, located in the central Cuban province of Cienfuegos.
The legal action filed at that time mentioned the Cuban hotel groups Gran Caribe, Cubanacan and Gaviota, as well as the Cimex corporation, and at that time did not include Melia, but the Spanish chain was added in September.
The decision of this week in Florida comes after, also last September, Melia had another success in the courts when the Spanish justice ordered to file in the European country a lawsuit filed against the group by the Sanchez-Hill family, due to the alleged illegitimate exploitation of some hotels in Cuba.