Puerto Rico fiscal board asked to reevaluate suit against gov’t vendors
Rep. Aponte Hernández questions why stateside law firms are offering unsolicited representation to plaintiffs
SAN JUAN — Rep. José Aponte Hernández announced Tuesday that he wrote to the executive director of Puerto Rico’s fiscal oversight board, Natalie Jaresko, requesting her to reconsider whether to continue to pursue the hundreds of lawsuits her panel filed to collect monies the government paid “for years” to individuals, companies and suppliers that provided it “essential services.”
In his two-page letter, the lawmaker also asked the board to investigate the dozens of law firms that have arrived to offer legal representation to the plaintiffs.
“Although we understand the responsibilities of the Board, we are highly alarmed by the process adopted by the [board’s] Special Claims Committee in which accusations of illegal actions that are against the basic principles of our society are generalized, including the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial under the law,” Aponte said in a statement.
In addition, he expressed concern about the impact the action would have on these businesses and the possible effect on the general economy. He alleged that some of the businesses have reported that payments for services “duly rendered” after being contracted by agencies are being withheld ahead of any legal verdict.
“It is impossible to expect businesses to finance government operations without the hope of recovering the expenses incurred,” he said.
The representative also alleged learning that defendants are being contacted by law firms that offer their services and have a list of defendants “long before the lawsuits were made public” or the defendants were cited.
“Given the importance of this matter, we request the Board reconsider the impact of these actions and how they align with the interests of the American citizens of Puerto Rico. Additionally, we require the Board to verify the veracity of the unsolicited legal representation offers and what internal procedures are promoting them. Your prompt and decisive attention on this matter is essential to safeguard the interests and rights of all the affected parties,” the former House speaker concluded.