Monday, November 20, 2017

Judge Swain sets deadlines on Aurelius, Utier actions

By on September 8, 2017

SAN JUAN — Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain will listen on Nov. 15 to arguments in connection to two separate lawsuits filed last month that challenge the constitutionality of the commonwealth’s financial control board, certified fiscal plans and approved budgets.

In an order issued Sept. 6, Swain explained that the U.S. attorney general has until Oct. 6 to notify the court whether the federal government will intervene in the action filed by Aurelius Capital Management, a hedge fund that holds more than $470 million in general obligation bonds, among other commonwealth debt. The creditor group questions the validity under the U.S. Constitution of the board members’ appointments.

As it involves a constitutional challenge to a law approved by Congress, the federal government can elect whether it will defend the validity of the legislation. If it decides to do so as part of Aurelius’s action, the federal government has until Nov. 5 to file its brief.

Puerto Rico hit with 2 lawsuits challenging board’s power 

The government, the fiscal board and other parties that wish to oppose Aurelius’s action must file by Oct. 3. The court will hear arguments on the Aurelius case at the omnibus hearing scheduled for Nov. 15.

A similar action was filed by the Irrigation & Electrical Workers Union (Utier by its Spanish acronym), which represents 3,600 employees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa). Utier also seeks to protect its collective bargaining agreement and have the utility be declared “a protected essential public service.”

Utier spokesman Ángel Figueroa announces two lawsuits it filed in federal court. (Agustín Criollo / CB)

Regarding Utier’s action, the U.S. attorney general has until Oct. 16 to notify the court its intent to intervene. If it decides to do so, it has until Nov. 10 to file its brief. The deadline to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint is Oct. 3.

If a motion to dismiss is filed, Utier’s opposition brief must be filed by Oct. 17, while reply briefs are due by Oct. 31.

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