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Glen v. Club Mediterranee, S.A.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

May 31, 2006, Decided ; May 31, 2006, Filed

No. 05-12648

Opinion

 [*1252]  COX, Circuit Judge:

Elvira de la Vega Glen and her son Robert M. Glen (together, "the Glens") sued Club Mediterranee, S.A. and Club Mediterranee Group ("Club Med") for trespass, unjust enrichment, and violation of the federal Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA). Their lawsuit seeks to recover compensation for allegedly wrongful benefits that Club Med derived through operation of a resort on property that the Glens claim to own in Cuba. The district court dismissed all three causes of action, holding that the act of state doctrine barred recovery on the Glens' unjust enrichment and trespass claims and that no private right of action exists under the TWEA. The Glens appeal the dismissal of the trespass and unjust enrichment claims only. We affirm.

I. FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Prior to the Communist revolution in Cuba, Elvira de la Vega Glen and her sister, Ana Maria de la Vega Glen, were Cuban citizens and residents who jointly owned beachfront property on the Peninsula de Hicacos [**2]  in Varadero, Cuba. On or about January 1, 1959, in conjunction with the revolution, the Cuban government expropriated the property. The Glens allege that the expropriation was illegal. Also in 1959, the sisters fled Cuba.

In 1997, in joint venture with the Cuban government, Club Med constructed and subsequently operated a five-star luxury hotel on the property that the Glens had owned. In 1999, Ana Maria de la Vega Glen died and passed any interest she still had in the Varadero beach property to her nephew Robert M. Glen. The Glens (now both U.S. citizens) allege that Club Med reaped a profit of many millions of dollars from its wrongful occupation and use of their property from 1997 into 2003. In  [*1253]  2003, Club Med turned over its interest in the resort to an unidentified third party.

In the district court, the Glens asserted three claims against Club Med. Two of these, unjust enrichment and trespass, are based on Florida law. The third claim was that Club Med violated the TWEA, 50 U.S.C. App. § 1 et seq., by engaging in business transactions prohibited by that federal statute. The district court dismissed the complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim, [**3]  holding that the Glens are barred by the act of state doctrine from recovering on the state law claims and that the TWEA does not provide a private right of action. Glen v. Club Mediterranee S.A., 365 F. Supp. 2d 1263 (S.D. Fla. 2005).

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450 F.3d 1251 *; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 13400 **; 19 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 590

ELVIRA DE LA VEGA GLEN, ROBERT M. GLEN, Plaintiffs-Appellants, versus CLUB MEDITERRANEE, S.A., Defendant-Appellee.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. D. C. Docket No. 04-21664 CV-KMM.

Glen v. Club Mediterranee S.A., 365 F. Supp. 2d 1263, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6838 (S.D. Fla., 2005)

Disposition: AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

act of state doctrine, expropriation, Helms-Burton Act, confiscated, trespass, unjust enrichment, cause of action, trafficking, ownership, foreign sovereign, suspended, lawsuits, courts

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, International Law, Dispute Resolution, Act of State Doctrine, Real Property Law, Torts, Trespass to Real Property, Torts, Premises & Property Liability, Trespass to Real Property, Elements, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Quasi Contracts, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Individuals & Sovereign States, General Overview