I INTRODUCTION TO THE PRODUCT LIABILITY FRAMEWORK
Puerto Rico's legal system is unique among US jurisdictions. As a former colony of the Kingdom of Spain, it draws heavily on the civil law tradition. The Civil Code is the basic source of law in many areas of private law, including tort law.2 Puerto Rican courts frequently rely on three sources of law: written law, judicial opinions and the work of treatise writers. Treatise writers are scholars who author detailed commentaries on the civil law, just like scholars who analyse the common law.3
However, owing to Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States, which began with the 1898 Treaty of Paris,4 common law has heavily influenced local legislation, judicial opinions and legal commentary.5 Puerto Rico's system is thus a mixture of Spanish civil law, US common law and US-style constitutional and procedural law. As the federal district court in Puerto Rico once said, 'Puerto Rico is the beneficiary of two great legal systems. Out of the interaction and synthesis of these systems, but without eclipsing or banning one or the other, a new Derecho Puertorriqueño can and does emerge.'6
Product liability is an area heavily influenced by common law. The doctrine of strict product liability cannot be found in the Civil Code;7 however, to 'fill a gap in our body of laws'8 the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico incorporated the principle of strict product liability under the guise of Article 1802 of the Civil Code, Puerto Rico's general tort provision.9
II REGULATORY OVERSIGHT
Like the federal government and the states of the Union, Puerto Rico has administrative bodies with regulatory, adjudicatory and enforcement authority over matters related to product safety. These include:
- the Department of Consumer Affairs, whose main purpose is to enforce regulation directed at protecting consumer rights, restrain inflation and oversee prices on consumer goods and services;12
- the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, which, among other things, is charged with implementing Puerto Rico's constitutional and statutory public policy on environmental matters13 and, as such, has regulatory and enforcement power regarding product and business regulations to control contamination and pollution; and
- the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor, which enacts and enforces workplace safety regulations.14
Puerto Rico can, and does, resort to the courts in the exercise of its parens patriae authority to seek damages, including in product liability cases.15
III CAUSES OF ACTION
Pursuant to Article 1802, '[a] person who by an act or omission causes damage to another through fault or negligence shall be obliged to repair the damage so done.'16 A plaintiff ordinarily needs to establish three elements: damage, the causal relationship between the damage and the act or omission, and that the act or omission was negligent or wrongful.17 While the third prong requires showing negligent or wrongful conduct, according to the Supreme Court, this left a void when addressing many product liability claims.18
To fill the perceived gap, the Court relied heavily on the strict liability theory developed in California.19 Puerto Rico law currently recognises the application of the strict liability doctrine for many claims involving:
- design defects;
- manufacturing defects; and
- defects for failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings.20
For these claims, the Court eliminated the requisite negligence factor of a general tort claim.21 Under the strict liability rule governing cases of this kind in Puerto Rico's legal system, the injured party need not prove the negligence of the manufacturer or the seller, but must prove that the product was defective.22
In González Pagán v. JR Seafood,23 the Puerto Rico Supreme Court held that claims for damages caused by products that are not manufactured or fabricated (contaminated shrimp in that case) do not trigger the strict liability doctrine. The Court explained its conclusion by emphasising that, under Puerto Rico law, the doctrine of strict product liability seeks to protect the consumer from the manufacturer's failure to provide a safe product. Therefore, claims related to products whose dangerous condition was not caused by human intervention do not implicate the liability doctrine's protection.24
i Design defects
To establish strict liability for a design defect under Puerto Rican law, the plaintiff must show that the defendants 'place[d] a product on the market, knowing that it is to be used without inspection for defects, and it has a defect that causes injuries'.25 Puerto Rico has generally adopted the principles of strict liability set out in the Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 402A,26 which provides that:
[O]ne who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if (a) the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and (b) it is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold.
However, Puerto Rican law rejects the Restatement's requirement that the product be 'unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer'. Instead, the plaintiff only needs to establish that the product is unsafe.27
For design defect claims, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico has embraced the 'two-alternatives test' set out in California in Barker v. Lull Engineering.28 The first is known as the 'consumer expectations test' and imposes liability if 'the plaintiff establishes that the product failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner'.29 The consumer expectations test applies when 'the everyday experience of the product's users permit a conclusion that the product's designs violated minimum safety assumptions'.30 Under the 'risk-utility test', there is liability if the product's design proximately caused injury and the benefits of the product's design do not outweigh the risk inherent in the design.31 Where the defect in question involves complex and technical issues, 'particularly within the knowledge of the manufacturer', the risk-utility analysis applies.32
In a negligent design claim the plaintiff must establish that:
- the defendant owed a duty to prevent the harm by conforming to a reasonable standard of conduct;
- the defendant breached that duty through a negligent act or omission; and
- the negligent act or omission caused the plaintiff's harm.33
The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the applicable standard of care and proving that the defendant acted below the standard.34
ii Manufacturing defects
For manufacturing defects claims, the Supreme Court adopted the definition of 'defect' suggested by Chief Justice Traynor in Greenman v. Yuba Powers, Inc35 to the effect that '[a] defective product may be defined as one that fails to match the average quality of like products, and the manufacturer is then liable for injuries resulting from deviations from the norm.'36
A manufacturer is strictly liable in tort when an article he places on the market, knowing that it is to be used without inspection for defects, proves to have a defect that causes injury to a human being and that liability is not one governed by the law of contract warranties but by the law of strict liability in tort. . . .37 [A] product's mere failure to function, in and of itself, is insufficient to prove a design defect.38
iii Failure to warn
Strict liability failure to warn cases may exist 'if the manufacturer or seller fails to provide the user with adequate warnings or instructions on the dangers or risks inherent to its handling or use'.39 These claims require showing that:
- the manufacturer knew or should have known of the product's inherent risk;
- warnings or instructions were not provided or those provided were inadequate;
- the absence or inadequacy of the warnings made the product inherently dangerous; and
- the absence of adequate warnings or instructions was the proximate cause of the injury.40
A negligent failure to warn claim requires a showing that the defendant 'failed to exercise due diligence to avoid foreseeable risks'.41 Both strict liability and negligent failure to warn claims require that the plaintiff proves that 'it is more likely than not' that the defendant's failure to provide adequate warnings 'was a substantial factor' in causing the injury.42
In 2016, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court's decision in Rodríguez Méndez v. Laser Eye43 addressed whether a manufacturer can be strictly liable for damages arising in relation to inadequate maintenance of a product after purchase. Rodríguez summarises and reiterates much of the prior case law on strict product liability but also provides important clarifications.
First, while the Court dismissed the case for lack of evidence, it held that manufacturers and sellers are strictly liable if they know or should have known of the risks inherent in the inadequate use of the product, such as not providing proper maintenance, and did not warn or provide adequate instructions about such risks and about proper maintenance.44 In other words, insufficient instructions about adequate maintenance can lead to strict liability under a failure-to-warn claim.45 Finally, citing New York case law, the Court endorsed the application of the substantial modification defence and stated that alterations or incorrect uses of a product constitute valid defences in claims related to products that are not defective when initially placed in the market.46
iv Breach of warranty
Articles 1373-1375 of the Civil Code47 require certain product quality warranties. A cause of action for violation of this duty requires showing that the defect: was hidden or concealed; was unknown to the purchaser at the time of the sale; is harmful to the utility of the product; and existed before sale.48 The purchaser may choose to rescind the contract (redhibitory action) or demand a proportional reduction of the sale price (quanti minoris action).49
However, since the 1953 case Castro v. Payco, Inc,50 Puerto Rico recognised a cause of action for breach of implied warranties based partly in the Puerto Rico Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act, and modelled on the doctrine developed in Louisiana.51 These actions are, in essence, strict liability claims.52 According to the Court, Puerto Rican law impliedly demands warranty that all products are wholesome and fit for human consumption. Citing the Louisiana decisions, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico asserted that:
everyone knows the qualities, good or bad, of the things which he fabricates in the exercise of his art, craft or business and that lack of such knowledge is imputed to him as a fault which makes him liable to the purchasers of his manufactured products for the damages resulting from imperfections or defects which he did not make known to the purchasers and of which they are ignorant.53
Product liability claims can be brought in the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance or in the US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Plaintiffs will frequently try to file the claim in a federal court to demand a trial by jury, since Puerto Rican law does not provide for jury trials in civil cases.54 Mainly, plaintiffs can file a claim in a federal court either when:
- it is asserted in a case that raises a federal question;55
- under the court's diversity jurisdiction, when all the plaintiffs and the defendants reside in different 'states';56 and
- under the court's admiralty jurisdiction.57
Cases filed in Puerto Rican courts that are nonetheless removable to a federal court58 present important judgement calls for defendants. For instance, defendants need to decide whether their preference for a federal forum outweighs the risks of a trial by jury. US and foreign defendants may want to remove cases to a federal court because the proceedings in Puerto Rican cases are mostly in Spanish.59 English -anguage proceedings in a federal court facilitate these defendants' understanding of developments in their cases and their assistance in the litigation. Yet, since the federal court record must be in English, litigants will frequently need to spend money to translate relevant Spanish-language decisions and commentary materials, documentary evidence and testimony.60
ii Burden of proof
Plaintiffs have the burden to establish the elements of the causes of action in Puerto Rican product liability cases.61 The plaintiff must introduce evidence that affords a reasonable basis for the conclusion that it is 'more likely than not' that the conduct of the defendant was a substantial factor in bringing about the result.62 Manufacturing defect claims where the risk-utility test analysis applies are characterised by burden-shifting. Plaintiffs must 'establish a prima facie case of causation'. If the plaintiff meets its burden, the defendants must show that the 'overall utility [of the product] exceeds the overall risk'.
Generally, the defendant bears the burden of establishing the facts that would eliminate or reduce liability. However, in actions filed after the initial time-limitations period has elapsed,63 the plaintiff bears the burden of proving timeliness.64
Statutes of limitation
The limitations term begins when the injured person has actual or constructive notice of the injury and knowledge of the identity of the tortfeasor.67 Article 1802 claims are subject to extrajudicial tolling by either an extrajudicial claim (usually a pre-complaint settlement demand) or an act of acknowledgment by the tortfeasor.68
The law on statutes of limitation has been subject to important developments during recent years. In its 2012 decision in Fraguada Bonilla v. Hosp Aux Mutuo,69 the Puerto Rico Supreme Court held that commencing an action against a tortfeasor no longer tolls the statute of limitations for claims against absent joint and several tortfeasors.70 Expanding on Fraguada, in the 2016 decision in Maldonado Rivera v. Suárez,71 the Court held that a defendant cannot bring a third-party claim against a joint and several tortfeasor after the original plaintiff's claim against the third-party defendant is time-barred. The Court also clarified that in these situations the trial court must subtract the amount of damages attributable to the absent tortfeasors from the final judgment.72
Claims for breach of implied warranty owing to hidden defects under Articles 1373–1375 are subject to a six-month limitations term.73 The term runs from the day on which the parties' efforts to solve the dispute are 'interrupted'.74
'Intervening causes can break the chain of causation if they are not foreseeable.'75 This refers to 'a cause of injury that “comes into active operation in producing the result after the actor's negligent act or omission has occurred”'.76
Assumption of risk
Under Puerto Rican law, a defendant is allowed to argue that the plaintiff assumed the risks of a defective product. However, Puerto Rico has adopted the norm established in California in Daly v. General Motors Corp.77 Accordingly, a plaintiff's assumption of risk will not eliminate the defendant's liability, but will only allow a reduction in the damages that can be recovered.78
Comparative fault or negligence
Under Article 1802, a plaintiff's fault or negligence causes a corresponding reduction of its compensatory damages.79 This doctrine applies to strict liability and negligence product liability claims.80
Absorption of fault
Under the absorption theory, if a party is only slightly responsible for causing damage, the overwhelming negligence of another party 'absorbs' the minimal negligence of the former and the latter bears all liability.81
iv Personal jurisdiction
Puerto Rico's long-arm statute extends personal jurisdiction to the full extent allowed under the US Constitution.82 The exercise of personal jurisdiction is guided by 'whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction . . . would abide by constitutional guidelines' of due process (i.e., the familiar test used in the United States).83
While plaintiffs frequently sue parent companies together with their local subsidiaries, '[u]nder Puerto Rican law there is a presumption that a corporate entity is separate from its controlling entity.'84 Courts only exercise jurisdiction over a foreign parent company when there is a 'plus factor' beyond the 'subsidiary's mere presence within the bosom of the corporate family'.85 Plus factors include an agency relationship between the parent and the subsidiary or a finding that the subsidiary is a mere shell for the parent's operations.86 Mere ownership of a subsidiary is insufficient to justify asserting personal jurisdiction over the parent wherever the subsidiary is present.87
v Expert witnesses
In federal litigation, courts apply the test set forth in the US Supreme Court decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.88 The First Circuit has said that Daubert requires 'that the proponent of the evidence show that the expert's conclusion has been arrived at in a scientifically sound and methodologically reliable fashion'.89
The committee in charge of drafting the current version of the Puerto Rico Rules of Evidence refused to endorse the Daubert approach in favour of a more flexible approach.90 Instead, under Rules 702 and 703 the testimony of an expert is admissible if the witness has some scientific, technical or specialised knowledge that could help the court to understand the evidence or to adjudicate a fact in controversy.91
Under the Puerto Rico Rules of Civil Procedure, discovery mainly includes the same practice used in federal litigation (i.e., meetings among attorneys to propose a discovery plan, initial disclosures, written discovery, production of documents, fact and expert witnesses depositions, subpoenas to third parties to compel testimony or the production of documents, and the duty to try to resolve discovery disputes without the need to request orders from the court). Puerto Rico also recognises most of the privileges applicable in federal litigation, such as the attorney–client privilege and the work product privilege, among others.
Under Puerto Rican law, 'all those who take part in the manufacturing and distribution chain of a product are solidarily liable, along with the manufacturer, to the injured party'.92 Solidarity is very similar to joint and several liability. The essential feature of solidarity is that the solidary debtors are jointly responsible for the same obligation.93 An aggrieved party may collect the entirety of the damages from one, some, or all the joint tortfeasors.94 Under Article 1098 of the Civil Code,95 joint debtors can demand payment for the amount that exceeds their share of responsibility for the damages.96
viii Mass tort actions
Puerto Rico allows class actions in a manner very similar to federal law. The filing of a class action tolls the statute of limitations for all members of the putative class even if class certification is ultimately denied. The limitations term begins to run again once certification is denied.97
The judiciary has also adopted Complex Litigation Rules, allowing for the consolidation of cases, whether pending in one or more judicial regions, with the purpose of eliminating unnecessary burdens on the parties and the judiciary's resources.98 The criteria to evaluate whether a complex litigation case should be created includes:
- the number of parties involved;
- the number of allegations and defences;
- the number of potential witnesses;
- the volume of potential evidence;
- the need for expert evidence;
- the complexity of the issues of fact and law and whether these need an unusual amount of evidence to be evaluated;
- the complexity of the remedy sought;
- the type of case including whether it involves product liability claims;
- whether a complex appellate process is anticipated;
- whether the cases have been certified as class actions;
- whether the case involves claims resulting from natural disasters or catastrophic events; and
- the anticipated complexity of the pretrial proceedings.99
Courts applying Puerto Rican general tort law can only grant compensatory damages. Punitive damages are not available in Puerto Rico for strict product liability or negligence claims.100 Trial courts have broad discretion in determining the amount of damages and the appellate courts will only reverse an award if it is an abuse of the trial court's discretion.
V YEAR IN REVIEW
In 2019, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court issued two decisions that touched on important issues of time-limitations law. Haedo Castro v. Roldán Morales reiterated that, under the provisions of Articles 1835 and 1838 of the Civil Code,101 an agreement to waive statutes of limitations for claims based on future acts is legally unenforceable.102 The Court's opinion reflects that, while the Civil Code was modelled on its counterpart in Spain, Puerto Rico's legal system is influenced by other sources. The Court's decision cites not only to the Civil Code of Spain and Spanish scholars but also judicial decisions from Louisiana (due to its system based on French civil law) and court opinions from common law jurisdictions in the United States.
In Cacho González v. Santarrosa, the Court also held that for an extrajudicial claim letter to toll the statute of limitations for damages claims under Article 1802 of the Civil Code, it only needs to contain sufficient details to communicate the unequivocal intent to set forth the claim and broadly notify the basis for the claim. This can be achieved by complying with the following: that the letter (1) is served within the limitations period; (2) is sent by the person with standing to assert the claim; (3) accurately communicates the nature of the claim; and (4) is served via a suitable mean.103
1 Albéniz Couret-Fuentes is a partner and Elaine M Maldonado-Matías is a managing partner at Sepulvado, Maldonado & Couret.
2 In re Dupont Plaza Fire Litigation, 687 F. Supp. 716, 726 (D.P.R. 1988).
4 Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, Articles I-III, 10 December 1898, United States-Spain, 30 Stat. 1754, 1755 (1899) (Spain ceding the Philippines, various West Indies, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States).
5 In re Dupont Plaza Fire Litigation, 687 F. Supp. at 727.
6 Diaz Irizarry v. Ennia, N.V., 678 F. Supp. 957, 962 n.5 (D.P.R. 1988).
7 Isla Nena Air Servs., Inc. v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 449 F.3d 85, 92 (1st Cir. 2006).
8 Rivera Santana v. Superior Packaging, Inc., 132 D.P.R. 115, 125 n.4 (1992).
9 Ramos Santiago v. Wellcraft Marine Corp., 93 F. Supp. 2d 112, 120 (D.P.R. 2000) ('The doctrine of strict product liability was created by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico under the aegis of Article 1802 of the Civil Code (Puerto Rico's general tort statute).').
10 See Rivera Santana, 132 D.P.R. at 125 n.4.
11 See id., ('[the Puerto Rico Supreme Court] adopted, through case law, the US common law products liability principles [. . .] to develop this field [. . .] notwithstanding the fact that our legal system is rooted in the civil law that puts emphasis on positive or written law.').
12 3 L.P.R.A. Section 341 et seq.
13 See P.R. Const Article VI, Section 19; 12 L.P.R.A. Section 8001 et seq.
14 29 L.P.R.A. Section 361 et seq.
15 See, e.g., In re MTBE Prods. Liab. Litig. (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Shell Oil Co. et al.), Civil Nos. 07-10470, 14-01014 (VSB) (S.D.N.Y.).
16 31 L.P.R.A. Section 5141.
17 Santini Rivera v. Serv Air, Inc., 137 D.P.R. 1, 6 (1994); see also Irvine v. Murad Skin Research Lab., 194 F.3d 313, 321 (1st Cir. 1999).
18 Rivera Santana, 132 D.P.R. at 125 ('In an effort to meet Puerto Rico's social needs, by judicial act, and as a question of public policy, we have laid down and adopted the manufacturer's strict liability rule for defective products.').
19 See Mendoza v. Cervecería Corona, 97 D.P.R. 499 (1969); Guevara v. Dorsey Labs., Div. of Sandoz, Inc., 845 F.2d 364 (1st Cir. 1988); see also Collazo-Santiago v. Toyota Motor Corp., 937 F. Supp. 134, 136-39 (D.P.R. 1996) (collecting cases).
20 Aponte Rivera v. Sears Roebuck de P.R., Inc., 144 D.P.R. 830, 839-40 (1998); Rivera Santana, 132 D.P.R. at 128; Montero-Saldaña v. Am. Motors, Corp., 107 D.P.R. 452, 462 (1978).
21 Rivera Santana, 132 D.P.R. at 126 n.5.
23 199 DP.R. 234 (2017).
24 González Pagán v. JR Seafood, 285 F. Supp. 3d 502, 504-05 (D.P.R. 2018) (discussing the Puerto Rico Supreme Court's holding). The question answered by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court had been certified by the federal District Court via a process by which a federal court asks a state's highest court to clarify an unsettled question of 'state law'. See generally Jona Goldschmidt, Certification of Questions of Law: Federalism in Practice (1995).
25 Malavé-Félix v. Volvo Car Corp., 946 F.2d 967, 971 (1st Cir. 1991).
26 Cruz Vargas v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, 218 F. Supp. 2d 109, 119 (D.P.R. 2002).
27 id., (citing Montero Saldaña).
28 Quintana-Ruiz v. Hyundai Motor Corp., 303 F.3d 62, 77 (1st Cir. 2002).
29 Barker, 573 P.2d at 446.
30 Quintana-Ruiz, 303 F.3d at 77.
32 id., at 69; see also Fremaint v. Ford Motor Co., 258 F. Supp. 2d 24, 30 (D.P.R. 2003) ('ordinary consumers are ill-equipped to decide what minimum safety to expect from seatbelts [. . .]').
33 Prado Álvarez v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 313 F. Supp. 2d 61, 73 (D.P.R. 2004), aff'd, 405 F.3d 36 (1st Cir. 2005).
34 Fremaint, 258 F. Supp. 2d at 28.
35 327 P.2d 897, 901 (Cal. 1962).
36 Rivera Santana, 132 D.P.R. at 127.
37 id., at 125–26 (quoting Greenman, 377 P.2d at 900) (internal quotation marks omitted).
38 Hernández Denizac v. Kia Motors Corporation, 323 F. Supp. 3d 277, 286 (D.P.R. 2018).
39 Rivera Santana, 132 D.P.R at 130.
40 Carrelo v. Advanced Neuromodulation Sys., 777 F. Supp. 2d 303, 311–12 (D.P.R. 2011).
41 Jiménez v. Pelegrina, 112 D.P.R. 700 (1982).
42 Prado Álvarez, 313 F. Supp. 2d at 76.
43 195 D.P.R. 769 (2016).
44 id., at 784.
45 id., at 788.
46 id., at 783 (citing Hoover v. New Holland N. Am. Inc., 11 N.E. 3d 693, 702 (N.Y. 2014)).
47 31 L.P.R.A. Sections 3841–43.
48 Boyd v. Superior Court, 101 D.P.R. 651 (1973); see also Simonet v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 506 F. Supp. 2d 77, 84 (D.P.R. 2007).
49 Simonet, 506 F. Supp. 2d at 84. The consumer may also seek quanti minoris remedy when a product does not comply with an express warranty. id.
50 75 D.P.R. 63 (1953).
51 In re Dupont Plaza Fire Litigation, 687 F. Supp. at 787.
52 Kunkel v. Motor Sports, 349 F. Supp. 2d 198, 210 (D.P.R. 2004) (under Puerto Rico law 'breach of warranty claims are tantamount to strict liability claims under Puerto Rico law') (citations and footnote omitted).
53 Castro, 75 D.P.R. at 73 (citing Boyd v. J.C. Penney Co., 195 So. 87 (La. Ct. App. 1st Cir. 1940); Ogden v. Rosedale Inn, 189 So. 162 (La. Ct. App. Orl. 1939); Kelly v. Ouachita Dairy Dealers Cooperative Associations, 175 So. 499 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 1937); MacLehan v. Loft Candy Stores, 172 So. 367 La. Ct. App. Orl. 1937).
54 See González-Oyarzun v. Caribbean City Builders, Inc., 798 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 2015) (holding that, like in the states of the Union, the Seventh Amendment to the US Constitution does not require Puerto Rico to provide jury trials in civil cases).
55 See 28 U.S.C. Section 1331 (governing federal question jurisdiction for cases 'arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States'); see also Gaming Corporation of America v. Dorsey & Whitney, 88 F.3d 536, 543 (8th Cir. 1996) ('The presence of even one federal claim gives the defendant the right to remove the entire case to federal court.'). In addition to actions involving federal claims, in some, albeit limited circumstances, the 'federal ingredient doctrine' allows federal courts to exercise jurisdiction over a 'special and small category of cases' where a 'state-law claim necessarily raise[s] a stated federal issue, actually disputed and substantial, which a federal forum may entertain without disturbing any congressionally approved balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities.' One & Ken Valley Housing Group v. Maine State Housing Authority, 716 F.3d 218 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Gunn v. Minton, 133 S. Ct. 1059, 1065 (2013)).
56 28 U.S.C. Section 1332 (diversity jurisdiction); see also id., Section 1332(e) (providing that the term 'States' for purposes of the federal courts' diversity jurisdiction includes Puerto Rico).
57 id., Section 1333 (admiralty jurisdiction).
58 id., Section 1441 (removal of actions that could have been filed in a federal court).
59 P.R. Rule of Civil Procedure 8.7 allows filings in English, but, as a matter of reality, the proceedings are largely conducted in Spanish.
60 See 48 U.S.C. Section 864 ('All pleadings and proceedings in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico shall be conducted in the English language.'); Puerto Ricans for P.R. Party v. Dalmau, 544 F.3d 58, 67 (1st Cir. 2008) ('[F]ailure of defendants to provide a translated copy of a critical decision alone warranted denial of their motion.'); P.R. Dist. Local Rule 5(g) (requiring English translations for '[a]ll documents not in the English language which are presented or filed, whether as evidence or otherwise'); First Circuit Local Rule 30.0(e) ('Whenever an opinion of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico (or other Commonwealth of Puerto Rico court) is cited in a brief or oral argument which does not appear in the bound volumes in English, an official, certified or stipulated translation thereof shall be filed.').
61 See, e.g., Prado Álvarez, 313 F. Supp. 2d at 75–76 ('In Puerto Rico, tort plaintiffs have the burden of establishing that the conduct of the defendant caused their injuries.'); Muñiz-Núñez v. American Home Products Corp., 582 F. Supp. 459, 461 (D.P.R. 1984) ('The issue of causation, even in cases where liability is perfectly strict, requires the plaintiff to satisfy the burden of establishing that the particular defendant has sold a product which he should not have sold and that it caused his injury.').
62 Prado Álvarez, 313 F. Supp. 2d at 76.
63 See Section IV.iii.
64 Tokyo Marine & Fire Ins. Co. v. Pérez & Cia. Inc., 142 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 1998).
65 Estate of Rosario v. Felken Tire Corp., 109 F. Supp. 3d 485, 490 (D.P.R. 2015).
66 31 L.P.R.A. Section 5298.
67 González-Pérez v. Hosp. Interamericano de Medicina Avanzada, 355 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2004).
68 Article 1873 of the Civil Code, 31 L.P.R.A. Section 5303; see also Sánchez et al. v. A.E.E., 142 D.P.R. 880 (1997).
69 186 D.P.R. 365 (2012).
70 See Arroyo v. Hospital La Concepción, 130 D.P.R. 596 (1992) (abrogated in Fraguada).
71 195 D.P.R. 182 (2016).
72 Maldonado, 195 D.P.R. at 212.
73 Article 1379 of the Civil Code, 31 L.P.R.A. Section 3847.
74 Ferrer Delgado v. General Motors Corp., 100 D.P.R. 246, 256 (1971).
75 Malavé-Félix, 946 F.2d at 972 (citing Gines v. P.R. Aqueduct & Sewer Auth., 86 P.R.R. 518, 523 (1962)).
76 Marshall v. Pérez Arzuaga, 828 F.2d 845, 848 (1st Cir. 1987).
77 575 P.2d 1162 (Cal. 1978).
78 McPhail v. Municipality of Culebra, 598 F.2d 603, 606 (1st Cir. 1979) (citing Montero Saldaña).
79 Cárdenas Maxán v. Rodríguez Rodríguez, 125 D.P.R. 702 (1990).
80 Montero Saldaña v. Am. Motors, 107 D.P.R. 452, 463–65 (1978).
81 Ruiz Troche v. Pepsi Cola of Puerto Rico, 161 F.3d 77, 87 (1st Cir. 1998).
82 P.R. Rule of Civil Procedure 3.1(a)(2).
83 González-Díaz v. Up Stage Inc., No. 11 Civ. 1689, 2012 WL 2579307, at *1 (D.P.R. 3 July 2012).
84 Colón v. Blades, 757 F. Supp. 2d 107, 109 (D.P.R. 2010) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
85 In re MTBE Prods. Liab. Litig., 959 F. Supp. 2d 476, 489 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (quoting Donatelli v. National Hockey League, 893 F.2d 459, 465–66 (1st Cir. 1990)).
86 id., Escude Cruz v. Ortho Pharm. Corp., 619 F.2d 902, 905 (1st Cir. 1980).
87 Donatelli, 893 F.2d at 465–66.
88 509 U.S. 579 (1993); see also Cruz-Vázquez v. Mennonite Gen. Hosp., Inc., 717 F.3d 63 (1st Cir. 2013).
89 Ruiz-Troche v. Pepsi Cola of Puerto Rico Bottling Co., 161 F.3d 77, 85 (1st Cir. 1998).
90 Comité Asesor Permanente de Reglas de Evidencia, Informe de las Reglas de Derecho Probatorio, 2007, at 424.
91 S.L.G. Font Bardón v. Mini-Warehouse, 179 D.P.R. 322, 344 (2010); see also Ernesto L Chiesa, Reglas de Evidencia de Puerto Rico 2009, at 223–224.
92 Aponte Rivera, 144 D.P.R. at 838 No. 6; see also Del Rosario-Ortega v. Star-Kist Caribe, Inc., 130 F. Supp. 2d 277, 284 (D.P.R. 2001) (citing Ferrer Delgado v. Gen. Motors Corp., 100 D.P.R. 246, 257-258 (1971) ('[In] a cause of action in products liability, [. . .] as a matter of public policy, each and every entity involved in the chain of distribution is strictly liable to the consumer'), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., 545 U.S. 546 (2005).
93 Tokyo Marine and Fire Ins. Co., 142 F.3d at 5.
94 Zurich American Ins. v. Lord Elec. Co. of Puerto Rico, 828 F. Supp. 2d 462, 469 (D.P.R. 2011).
95 31 L.P.R.A. Section 3109.
96 See García v. Gobierno de la Capital, 72 D.P.R. 138 (1951).
97 Rivera Castillo v. Mun. de San Juan, 130 D.P.R. 683 (1992).
98 P.R. Complex Litigation Rule 3(d).
99 P.R. Complex Litigation Rule 5.
100 Guardiola-Álvarez v. Departamento de la Familia, 175 D.P.R. 668, 681 (2009); Noble v. Corporación Insular de Seguros, 738 F.2d 51, 54 (1st Cir. 1984).
101 31 L.P.R.A. Section 5246 and 5249.
102 2019 T.S.P.R. 176.
103 2019 T.S.P.R. 146, at *8.