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Villoldo v. Ruz

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 7, 2015

ALFREDO VILLOLDO, individually, and GUSTAVO E. VILLOLDO, individually, and as Administrator, Executor, and Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF GUSTAVO VILLOLDO ARGILAGOS, Plaintiffs,
v.
FIDEL CASTRO RUZ, as an individual, and as an official, employee, or agent of the Republic of Cuba, RAUL CASTRO RUZ, as an individual, and as an official, employee, or agent of the Republic of Cuba, THE MINISTRY OF INTERIOR, an agency or Instrumentality of the Republic of Cuba, THE ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, an agency or instrumentality of the Republic of Cuba, and THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, a foreign state, Defendants

For Alfredo Villoldo, Individually, Gustavo E. Villoldo, individually, and as Administrator, Executor and Personal Representative of the Estate of Gustavo Villoldo Argilagos, Plaintiffs: Andrew C. Hall, Roarke Maxwell, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Hall, Lamb and Hall P.A., Miami, FL; Louis M. Ciavarra, LEAD ATTORNEY, AiVi Nguyen, Bowditch & Dewey, LLP, Worcester, MA; Brandon R. Levitt, PRO HAC VICE, Hall, Lamb and Hall, P.A., Miami, FL.

Maria Ana Abarrio Sainz, Interested Party, Pro se, Matanzas, CP.

For United States, Interested Party: Benjamin L. Berwick, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch, Washington, DC; Anthony J. Coppolino, United States Department of Justice -FPB, Civil Division, Washington, DC.

For State Street Bank and Trust Company, Trustee: Donald M. Deng, Wilmer Hale LLP, Boston, MA; Julie Callahan Shields, State Street Bank and Trust Company, Boston, MA.

For Computershare Inc., Trustee: Brian R. Birke, LEAD ATTORNEY, Adler, Pollock & Sheehan, PC, Boston, MA; Daniel D'Angelo, LEAD ATTORNEY, Computershare, Canton, MA; Michael C. Gilleran, LEAD ATTORNEY, Burns & Levinson LLP, Boston, MA.

Page 436

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL RE-ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATED SHARES (Docket No. 37), and MOTION FOR ORDER TO COMPLETE TURNOVER AND SET BOND FOR RE-ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATED SHARES (Docket No. 49)

TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Introduction

Plaintiffs Alfredo Villoldo, Gustavo Villoldo, and the Estate of Gustavo Villoldo Argilagos (" Plaintiffs" ) seek the turnover of 383 securities accounts held by Trustee-Process Defendant Computershare, Inc. (" Computershare" ). The accounts (" Computershare accounts" ) were opened in the 1950s by seventy individuals with Cuban addresses. Computershare, located in Canton, Massachusetts, is a transfer agent of U.S.-based securities issuers. Plaintiffs seek the turnover of the Computershare accounts in execution of a default judgment obtained by Plaintiffs in a Florida state court against Defendants Fidel Castro Ruz, Raul Castro Ruz, the Ministry of the Interior, the Army of the Republic of Cuba, and the Republic of Cuba. The judgment was awarded for the wrongful death and personal injuries of Gustavo Villoldo

Page 437

Argilagos, who was abducted, imprisoned, and tortured by the Castro regime following the Cuban Revolution. Plaintiffs are the sons and estate of Gustavo Villoldo Argilagos.

This Court granted Plaintiffs' initial ex parte motion for turnover on December 11, 2013. (Docket No. 27) (" Turnover Order" ). The Court found that under Cuban Law Nos. 567 and 568, the Computershare accounts are owned by the Republic of Cuba, and are therefore subject to attachment and execution to satisfy Plaintiffs' judgment under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The Court issued a trustee summons and Computershare filed an answer on December 31, 2013, in which it indicated that it would not oppose the turnover of the accounts within its possession. (Docket No. 30).

On April 2, 2014, however, Computershare had a change of heart and filed an emergency motion for a continuance of the turnover process, citing " the myriad of regulatory, contractual, and statutory securities issues" raised by the Turnover Order. (Docket No. 45). The Court granted the continuance, prompting Plaintiffs to file a motion for an order directing Computershare to complete the turnover process. (Docket No. 49). Subsequently, the United States filed a statement of interest urging the Court rescind the Turnover Order. (Docket No. 69). Specifically, the United States asked the Court to reconsider its conclusion that the accounts are owned by Cuba.[1]

In an order dated January 8, 2015, this Court determined that it would reconsider the Turnover Order and requested additional briefing from the parties on whether Cuban Law Nos. 567 and 568 vested ownership of the Computershare accounts in Cuba. (Docket No. 85). For the following reasons, the Turnover Order (Docket No. 27) and the Order Directing Turnover of Book Shares and Cash Accounts (Docket No. 35) are vacated. Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Re-Issuance of Certificated Shares (Docket ...


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