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Gonzalez v., Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

May 11, 2020, Decided; May 11, 2020, Entered on Docket

Civil Action No. 19-23988-Civ-Scola


Order on Motions to Dismiss

Now before the Court is, Inc.'s ("Amazon") and Susshi International Inc.'s ("Susshi") motions to dismiss the amended complaint. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 35, 36).

1. Background

The Plaintiff Daniel A. Gonzalez ("Gonzalez") filed this action against the Defendants pursuant to Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (the "Helms-Burton Act" or the "Act"). (ECF No 1.) The Act creates a private right of action against [*2]  any person who "traffics" in confiscated Cuban property. See 22 U.S.C. § 6082(a)(1)(A). A purpose of the Helms-Burton Act is to "protect United States nationals against confiscatory takings and the wrongful trafficking in property confiscated by the Castro Regime." 22 U.S.C. § 6022(6).

The Court previously dismissed the original Complaint because (1) Gonzalez did not sufficiently allege that he has an actionable ownership interest in the property and (2) Gonzalez failed to sufficiently allege that Amazon knowingly and intentionally trafficked in the property. (See Order on Motions to Dismiss, ECF No. 36.) However, the Court gave the Plaintiff leave to amend his allegations if he could sufficiently allege the scienter and ownership elements. Gonzalez subsequently filed his Amended Complaint, and the Defendants each filed a motion to dismiss in response.

In his Amended Complaint, Gonzalez alleges that he is the rightful owner of an agricultural property in Cuba. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 29 at ¶ 22.) His grandfather Manuel Gonzalez Rodriguez purchased the land in 1941. (Id. at ¶ 10.) The Cuban government confiscated the property in 1959. (Id. at ¶ 17.) His grandfather passed away in December 1988, and upon his death, the subject property [*3]  passed to Plaintiff's father, Guido Gonzalez. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Guido Gonzalez became a United States citizen in November 1988, right before he inherited the property. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Guido Gonzalez passed away in November of 2016, and upon his death, his wife Adis Gonzalez inherited the property. (Id. at ¶ 16.) "[G]iven her advanced age and fragile health," she "chose to pass her ownership claim" to her son, the Plaintiff, Daniel Gonzalez. (Id.)

Gonzalez could not file a claim with the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission under Title V of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949 because he was not a United States Citizen at the time the property was confiscated. (Id. at ¶ 23.) However, Gonzalez became a United States citizen prior to March 12, 1996. (Id. at ¶ 2.) According to the Amended Complaint, Susshi and Amazon began selling charcoal that was produced on Gonzalez's land starting on January 5, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 27.) On July 22, 2019, Gonzalez sent Amazon written notice by certified mail to cease and desist from trafficking in the property. (Id.) Susshi markets the charcoal as the "[First] Cuban Export to the USA" and "Made from 100% Cuban Marabu." (Id.)

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82296 *

Daniel A. Gonzalez, Plaintiff, v., Inc. and Susshi International Inc., Defendants.

Prior History: Gonzalez v., Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41718 (S.D. Fla., Mar. 10, 2020)


confiscated, inherited, ownership