Casellas Alcover & Burgos, P.S.C. News

Seven Years, Seven Lessons

by CAB on July, 2014 Ricardo Casellas sits down with Hispanic Executive to share his top takeaways from his years thus far in his private practice, Casellas Alcover & Burgos, P.S.C. As told to Zach Baliva 1. Craft your own identity
I learned that clients hire the lawyer, not the firm. My partners and I were working together for another firm. When that firm terminated pension plans, we decided to go out on our own. We wanted to create our own identity and brand. This would involve picking our employees and developing our own way to manage a practice. We were encouraged when most of our corporate clients followed us. I learned through this process that America truly is the land of opportunity. If you are ethical and do good work, your clients will support you. 2. Don't be a follower, be a leader
We have a saying in Spanish: más vale ser cabeza de ratón que la cola de león; it is better to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion. We all worked for a very large firm before starting our own and agree that it is infinitely better to lead a small firm than to be a cog in the wheel of a large organization. You are able to carve your own path by choosing the work that is important to you. Coming to work is different each and every day, and it's endlessly rewarding. 3. Stick to what you know
In building this firm, I've found that it's important to develop one area of expertise, instead of trying to be everything to everyone. We try cases in local courts, federal courts, and administrative agencies. We do both domestic and international arbitration cases, but we stick to the basics of what we're good at. We are experts at commercial litigation and counseling in corporate matters. We can adapt to change, but keep the focus on these areas. You don't learn this in any textbook, but developing a focused expertise makes you different from any other good lawyer out there. The best way to serve clients is to be excellent in just a few areas. That's your best calling card. 4. Believe in your abilities
Over the years, I've also realized how important it is to have confidence in yourself. We've represented PETA, Kellogg, Bacardi, Welch's, Pfizer, NBC/Telemundo, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and other major organizations. We're also very active in litigation involving distribution law issues, First Amendment defense, and health laws. It is crucial to be certain of your abilities when representing big companies on high-profile cases. For me, that certainty was acquired during a mid-'90s case I handled for the Miami Heat. Their mascot was sued in federal court for his actions at an exhibition game in Puerto Rico. He grabbed a woman out of the stands against her will and pulled her across the court. She was the spouse of a Puerto Rican Supreme Court justice, so nobody wanted to take the case. I believe everyone is entitled to a defense, so I represented the team and the mascot. They received a fair jury trial and eventually reached a favorable outcome after two jury trials and an appeal. During this case, I proved to myself that I could overcome adversity in order to defend a client. I earn respect by taking on sensitive cases, and I always enjoy the challenge. 5. No case is a lost cause
A lawyer has to analyze a case on its nose. From the facts and the law, you can predict success or failure. However, I never reject a case simply because I believe the client has a probability of losing. Over the last seven years, I've seen some unlikely outcomes. I'm always open with the client about the probabilities, and again, everyone deserves a defense. If a client is truthful about their version of events, I will represent them. 6. Law is a business
Many of us get into this line of work because we want to contribute to a just society and do work we believe in. But when you open your own firm, you also have to manage it well. You need great partners, great associates, and a great staff. And you have to treat them fairly and with respect. For the firm to operate at high levels, you must make sound business decisions. Being a good lawyer isn't enough—you have to be a good businessman, too. 7. Find a balance
While lawyers are notorious for working long hours, the past seven years have shown me how important it is to have a healthy balance between work and life. I have more flexibility now since I manage my own schedule and hours, but I have to work harder to manage the business. Technology is a huge help. I can work with all of my firm's resources from home if necessary, or I can use FaceTime or Skype from almost anywhere in the world. I don't always have to be in the office to get things done.

COVID - 19 Update

by CAB on April 2nd, 2020

Alert! During the pandemic, CAB remains open for business and is prepared to serve our clients from our homes. Before the Government of Puerto Rico announced its extension of the closure order to April 12, we announced ours to be safe. Our full staff of attorneys and support employees stand ready to manage the crisis and continue to serve our clients remotely to provide the best service possible. Our attorneys have access to e-mail and are available to talk by cel. phone or videoconference. We are staying safe and hope you are too. Contact us.

Chambers Latin America 2014 Distinguishes CAB Partners and Ranks Senior Associate Natalia Morales as an “Associate to Watch.”

by CAB on September, 2013 The prestigious international legal publication, Chambers and Partners, has once again recognized CAB as a distinguished dispute resolution boutique in Chambers Latin America 2014, including top rankings for the firm’s partners and its senior associate, Natalia Morales, in the area of Dispute Resolution. Chambers describes CAB as “dedicated dispute resolution boutique” that “is home to a skilled team with an impressive work flow.” Natalia Morales, was ranked for the first time as an “Associate to Watch,” and lauded as “a ‘dynamic and hard-working’ associate who is carving out a reputation in the market,” for her “excellent litigation and negotiation skills.” The firm’s partners were also recognized for their expertise and dedication in their respective areas of practice. Chambers reports that César Alcover “is widely praised for his accessibility and his particular expertise in the health sector,” while Ricardo Casellas “is recognized for his experience handling distribution, franchising and trade regulation cases,” and Heriberto Burgos was acknowledged for his “significant experience in banking litigation, public contracts and procurement.” All of the firm’s partners, and the firm itself, received Band 2 classification in the Dispute Resolution category. The Chambers Latin America 2014 report is a directory that identifies top-ranked business lawyers and law firms in the region through independent research and in-depth interviews with peers and clients. Access the full report at: Chambers Latin America 2014.

Cesar T. Alcover serves as lecturer and moderator at 7th Annual Health Law Conference.

by CAB on April 12, 2013 CAB partner César T. Alcover was among the lecturers at the Interamerican University Law School's 7th Annual Health Law Conference, held on April 11-12, 2013 at the San Juan Marriott Hotel & Casino. Mr. Alcover gave a lecture that focused on the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, as applied to the health care industry. He also served as moderator for a panel that discussed new tendencies in Puerto Rico regarding health care fraud, with perspectives from the private sector, insurance companies and state and federal agencies on how best to fight it.

CAB Partners Commended by Chambers and Partners in the Chambers Global 2013 Report.

by CAB on March 19, 2013 Two of the firm's partners gained recognition as distinguished Puerto Rico attorneys in the area of Dispute Resolution, in the Chambers Global 2013 report, published by the prestigious international legal publication Chambers & Partners. Heriberto Burgos "wins praise for his drafting skills", while Ricardo Casellas "is hailed for providing fast response times" and "having 'a brilliant mind, excellent negotiation skills and a practical business sense.'" Both partners, and the firm itself, gained Band 2 classification in the Dispute Resolution category. The Chambers Global 2013 report is a directory that identifies top-ranked business lawyers and law firms worldwide, after evaluating 180 countries through independent research and in-depth interviews with peers and clients. Access the full report at: Chambers Global 2013.

CAB Obtains Reversal on Appeal of $20M Judgment Against its Client, PRTC

by CAB on December 28, 2012 CAB lawyers won the reversal on appeal of a $20-million judgment that a telephone contractor, All Systems Electronics (ASE), had obtained against its client, the Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC), for alleged unilateral termination of contract. PRTC terminated ASE's service contracts because it offered false information during the contracting and contract renewal process. The Court of Appeals of Puerto Rico ruled that PRTC had properly terminated the contracts after ASE violated an essential contractual provision requiring it to certify that it had filed income tax returns for the previous five years and did not owe taxes. Notably, CAB lawyers were engaged in the case after the trial had begun and the trial court had entered a non-suit judgment dismissing PRTC's declaratory judgment complaint. Before the intervention of CAB lawyers, the case had been in litigation for 10 years. Cesar T. Alcover was CAB's lead counsel.

CAB and its Partners Recognized in 2013 Chambers Latin America Report.

by CAB on June 5, 2012 Casellas Alcover & Burgos was lauded with Band 2 classification in the Dispute Resolution field byChambers and Partners in their Chambers Latin American 2013 report. Three of its partners, Heriberto Burgos, Ricardo Casellas, and Cesar Alcover, were also individually commended. The firm is described as offering "high-quality work, great results and diligent lawyers, all at competitive rates." Chambers Latin America is a directory that exclusively lists law firms and attorneys from the region who are strongly recommended from in-depth interviews with peers and clients. The directory is based on extensive and unbiased research approved by the British Market Research Bureau. Access the full report at: Chambers Latin America 2013.

Awards in Law 75 cases in Puerto Rico

by CAB on March 24, 2012 In one of the largest awards in Law 75 cases in Puerto Rico, a three-member arbitration panel awarded a groceries distributor over $4.655 million in damages for an unjustified termination and impairment by a manufacturer of meat products of an exclusive distributorship. Representing the distributor during the hearings was Ricardo Casellas, as lead counsel.

Microsoft names Casellas Alcover & Burgos, P.S.C. its preferred law firm in Puerto Rico

by CAB on March 12, 2012 Latin Lawyer profiles Microsoft's Latin American legal group in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and names Casellas Alcover & Burgos, P.S.C. as Microsoft's preferred law firm in Puerto Rico. View PDF

Three CAB lawyers selected for The Best Lawyers in Puerto Rico, 2014 edition

by CAB on October, 2013 Ricardo F. Casellas Sánchez was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in the First Edition of Best Lawyers in Puerto Rico in the practice areas of: Appellate Practice, Arbitration and Mediation, Franchise Law and Intellectual Property Law by Best Lawyers (Copyright 2014 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC). Ricardo was also named Best Lawyers’ 2014 San Juan Appellate Practice "Lawyer of the Year". Only a single lawyer in each practice area in each community is being honored as the “Lawyer of the Year".

César Alcover and Heriberto Burgos were named in the practice area of Litigation.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® is regarded as a definitive guide to legal excellence. Because Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which almost 50,000 leading attorneys cast nearly five million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas, and because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

Ricardo F. Casellas appointed as Chairperson of the Rules Advisory Committee of The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

by CAB on June 5, 2015 View the press release here.

Ricardo Casellas was the keynote speaker on "Appellate Procedure in the First Circuit

by CAB 2008 Ricardo Casellas was the keynote speaker on "Appellate Procedure in the First Circuit during 2008" in a CLE seminar on federal appellate practice sponsored by the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Attending were over 170 members of the bar, federal judiciary, Federal Public Defender's office and the U.S. Attorney's office.

César Alcover Was a Guest Speaker in the Fifth Health Law Conference

César Alcover was a guest speaker in the Fifth Health Law Conference sponsored by on the Inter. Amer. Univ. Law School. Mr. Alcover will be lecturing on the Puerto Rico Patient´s Bill of Rights, from the perspective of the insurer.

Ricardo Casellas Serves as Moderator in an Activity that Honored the Most Senior Federal Judges in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico

In a ceremony sponsored by the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, its President, Ricardo Casellas, was the moderator in the activity that honored two of the most senior federal judges in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico for their service and contributions.

Employment Opportunities

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Best Lawyers announces firm awards in Puerto Rico, 2019 edition

by CAB on November 2018 Casellas Alcover & Burgos named 2019 “Law Firm of the Year” recipient in the Practice Area of Litigation.

Carla S. Loubriel Appointed To The Rules Advisory Committee For The United States Court Of Appeals For The First Circuit.

by CAB on April 25th, 2019

CAB Junior Partner Carla S. Loubriel has been appointed by Chief Judge Jeffrey R. Howard of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to serve as a member of the Court’s Rules Advisory Committee. Carla, whose term will end in 2022, joins a select group of practicing attorneys, tasked with reviewing and making recommendations regarding the rules of practice and internal operating procedures for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the First Circuit Judicial Council.

View the press release here.

Cesar T. Alcover To Serve As Lecturer At Seminar For Administrators And Managers Of Imaging Centers.

by CAB on April 29th, 2019

CAB partner César T. Alcover will be among the lecturers at this year’s “Seminar for Administrators and Managers of Imaging Centers,” hosted by the Healthcare Financial Management Association. The seminar will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, and it is offered for continuing medical education credits. César is part of a panel that will be presenting on legal aspects of the management and adjudication of health care claims.

View the seminar agenda here.

CAB Wins Reversal By Puerto Rico Supreme Court Of Administrative Law Ruling Issued In Violation Of Its Client’s Due Process Rights

by CAB on April 5th, 2019

CAB successfully represented Mercedes Benz USA, LLC and Mercedes Benz Financial Services USA, LLC (Mercedes) before the Puerto Rico Supreme Court in its appeal against a decision by the intermediate appellate court confirming a ruling by the Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO, by its Spanish acronym), which Mercedes had argued went against the clear weight of the evidence presented at the administrative hearing.

Claimants, a vehicle owner and his wife, brought a claim before DACO against Mercedes and the dealership, Garage Isla Verde, LLC, for a persistent oil leak in the rear end of their vehicle. They requested a vehicle exchange based on a substantial defect or, alternatively, resolution of the sales/purchase agreement, return of monies, and emotional damages. Despite evidence on the record that the oil leak had been fixed, the claimant’s failure to rebut a DACO expert report establishing as much, additional expert testimony during the hearing to that effect, and a lack of testimonial evidence to support a finding of emotional damages, the DACO administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a ruling in favor of claimants, granting them full relief. The ALJ concluded that the sale/purchase agreement was null and void because the vehicle’s oil leak predated the sale, such that Garage Isla Verde incurred in a fraudulent sales practice, and included other factual findings that were unsupported by the record. The ALJ went as far as to find that Mercedes used “less than ideal” materials in the manufacturing of the vehicle’s oil pan, when no such evidence has been presented, and that the vehicle’s oil leak had been a source of environmental contamination, meriting referral of the ALJ’s ruling to the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In an Opinion authored by the Hon. Luis F. Estrella Martínez, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court concluded that both DACO and the Court of Appeals violated their own procedural rules and infringed Mercedes’s due process rights, by denying its motion for reconsideration and request for judicial review without first addressing Mercedes’s timely and substantiated petition for copy of the administrative hearing transcript.

The Court held that, where judicial review is taken from an administrative adjudication based on a lack of evidence to support the factual determinations made by the agency, and the appellant has made a proper request for copy of the hearing transcript in order to challenge the administrative ruling against the oral evidence, the Court of Appeals must first grant the transcript request. Because deference to the administrative agency’s factual findings requires that they be supported by substantial evidence, the Court of Appeals may not confirm on that ground without first granting appellants access to the full administrative record on appeal.

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court reversed and remanded to the Court of Appeals for further appellate review, upon evaluation of the full record including the hearing transcript.

CAB partner César T. Alcover was lead counsel in this case. Natalia Morales Echvevarría was also part of CAB’s litigation team.

AAA ICDR Panel Rules In Favor Of CAB Distributor Client In Law 75 Arbitration, Awarding Over $1.1m In Damages, Fees And Costs

by CAB on May 9th, 2019

On May 2, 2019, a three-member panel of the International Center for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) issued a 2-1 decision in favor of CAB’s client, claimant Puerto Rico Hospital Supply Group, Inc. (“PRHS”), and against respondent Johnson & Johnson International (“J&JI”), after contentious arbitration proceedings, in which PRHS alleged termination without just cause under Puerto Rico’s Dealer’s Contract Law 75 of a non-exclusive distribution agreement, and requested damages over $400,000 plus an award of fees and costs.

The AAA Panel determined that J&JI had terminated the agreement without just cause in violation of Law 75. The Panel awarded PRHS five years of lost profits on the line, the cost of the returned inventory, AAA fees, the pro rata share of fees it paid for panel compensation, attorney’s and expert witness fees as the prevailing party under Law 75, and costs and interest at the annual rate of 6.25% for a sum exceeding $1.1 million. The Panel also unanimously concluded that J&JI had failed to prove the existence of the debt or its amount and dismissed the counterclaim with prejudice.

The Panel decided interesting and substantial questions under Puerto Rico Law 75, including as to the use of pretext evidence to overcome a manufacturer’s proffer of just cause for a termination, and the reasonability of contractual payment terms as “rules of conduct” under the Law 75’s Section 278a-1(c). For more background and detail on this case, please visit our blog on Puerto Rico Law 75.

CAB partner Ricardo F. Casellas was lead counsel in this case, and the related federal litigation. Heriberto Burgos Pérez, Mariano A. Mier-Romeu, and Mercedes Rodríguez were also part of CAB’s litigation team.