Paula Aguila has a record of impressive accomplishments by successfully managing and providing strategic direction in domestic and international complex disputes, including high-stakes multi-million dollar matters. Some of her many achievements include:
Aguila litigated five lawsuits in 2019 under the Helms-Burton statute against U.S.-based online hotel booking providers for their booking of rooms in more than 70 hotels across Cuba. Helms-Burton allows U.S. nationals to claim damages against persons who “traffic” in property they owned in Cuba at the time of the Cuban revolution that was thereafter confiscated by the Castro government. Aguila also litigated what is likely the single biggest claim to date under Helms-Burton, that of the heir to the José Martí International Airport against two of the major airlines flying into that airport, estimated to be for an amount approaching $1 billion. All of these extraordinarily complex cases are still pending, involving questions of proof spanning six decades, conduct crossing multiple borders, and legal questions of first impression.
Aguila successfully argued to the Florida Third District Court of Appeal that a Miami-Dade trial court erred in denying a Brazilian bank representative’s motion to dismiss a fraud complaint in Hamed Wardak, et al. v. Estrategia Investimentos, S.A., et al. Agreeing with Aguila, the Third District Court of Appeal concluded that this multimillion-dollar claim should be litigated in Brazil and reversed the trial court order on October 17, 2018. The Daily Business Review reported on Aguila’s victory on the cover of its October 23, 2018 publication.
Aguila was co-lead counsel for six former directors and officers of Westernbank (the “D&Os”), the third largest bank in Puerto Rico, in a dispute against Chartis Insurance Company relating to a $50 million D&O policy. When Chartis refused to cover the FDIC’s lawsuit against the D&Os for over $160 million on the basis of an Insured v. Insured exclusion, Aguila co-led the effort to enforce the D&Os’ policy. Insurance coverage disputes, often involving Insured v. Insured exclusions, are a growing concern for bank directors and officers, and this case was a bellwether on such issues. On July 3, 2012, in the first decision in the most recent banking crisis on Insured v. Insured, the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico granted the D&Os’ request and ordered Chartis to advance the costs of their defense in the FDIC suit. Thanks to this victory and to an additional $50 million D&O Policy obtained for the D&Os on a relation-back theory, totaling $100 million in insurance proceeds, the D&Os were able to successfully settle the case with the FDIC in March 2015.
In one of the largest, most complex litigations in the world, Aguila successfully worked on a Chevron joint-defense team representing the chief in-house counsel for Texaco Petroleum Company (“TexPet”), a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, in relation to the famous Chevron v. Donziger litigation. Aguila worked on the discovery efforts to obtain the outtakes of a film about the $18 billion Ecuadorian litigation—Crude—ultimately persuading United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, Lewis Kaplan, to order the production of the largest volume of video outtakes ever ordered produced in the history of the US. The Wall Street Journal called this case the “Legal Fraud of the Century.”
Aguila successfully defended a dual resident of Venezuela and the United States against Venezuela’s Banco Nacional de Crédito, C.A. in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court in a case for more than 15 million Bolivars, alleging breach of guaranty and unjust enrichment. After successfully arguing before the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, the Circuit Court granted Aguila's renewed motion to dismiss based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens, on May 5, 2014, finding that the appropriate forum for the action is Caracas, Venezuela, not Miami, Florida.
Aguila helped secure a complete dismissal of a shareholder's derivative action of over $130 million against the former Directors and Officers of one of the largest banks in Puerto Rico. The shareholder's derivative action alleged violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, waste of corporate assets, unjust enrichment, and violations of Puerto Rico’s General Corporations Law. The U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico concluded that the derivative suit was not in the best interest of the bank and dismissed the action against all Aguila's clients.
Aguila represented Totrasa, an Ecuadorian motor vehicle distributor, in a lawsuit against the exclusive distributor for a Chinese, state-owned company, in an arbitration in Miami for breach of contract and fraud. On March 19, 2009, Aguila obtained an award for the full amount of the damages sought, over $3 million.