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Companies entering into Florida contracts can also work in Cuba

In 2012, Florida lawmakers determined that work performed in Florida should not benefit companies that also do business in Cuba. Legislation was passed targeting companies with a parent company or subsidiary with Cuban connections. These companies were banned from entering into a state or local Florida contract worth $1 million or more.

In response, a construction and engineering firm called Odebrecht USA, filed commercial litigation claiming that the law should be immediately blocked. Odebrecht has a parent company connected to affiliates working in Cuba. Accordingly, if the law went into effect, Odebrecht would not be allowed to contract with Florida governments. This situation would be problematic for Odebrecht which has received close to $4 billion from construction projects across the state over the last 23 years. Other companies would also have been affected by the new law; it is estimated that 238 firms that enter into Florida governmental contracts also have a business connection to Cuba. 

A federal appeals court agreed with Odebrecht and refused to allow the law to go into effect. The court explained that Florida legislators could not set United States foreign policy which is the President’s job. In addition, Florida’s law would be harsher than federal law which is not acceptable.

Companies in Florida often have international ties and do business globally. While these worldwide connections can lead to greater business opportunities, there is also a risk of suffering more complicated disputes. In any case where a disagreement cannot be resolved, whether with a local or foreign person, company, or government, it may be helpful to seek prompt advice from experienced legal counsel. 

Source: News Observer, “Appeals court: Fla. law prohibiting hiring of companies tied to Cuba is unconstitutional,” Patricia Mazzei, May 6, 2013 

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