Citation. 512 F. Supp. 2d 81 (D.P.R. 2007)
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Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff, general counsel for First Bancorp, uncovers irregularities and violations of the bank’s Code of Ethics by bank officials. Plaintiff is later fired and sues the bank alleging violations of federal employment law (Title VII) and a number of claims under Puerto Rico laws.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The federal court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction for the presence of complex or novel issues of state law.
The plaintiff, Carmen Szendrey-Ramos, served as general counsel for First Bancorp in Puerto Rico. Szendrey uncovers a report of ethical and legal violations by the bank’s officials and finds irregularities and violations the bank’s Code of Ethics concerning the accounting for bulk purchase of mortgage loans from other financial institutions. She reports the violations to outside counsel for the bank, the Board of Directors and bank officials. Szendrey was fired, the bank blaming her for some of the events she investigated. She sues the bank alleging violations of federal employment law (Title VII) and a number of claims under Puerto Rico law (wrongful discharge, violations of the P.R. Constitution and for defamation and tortuous interference with contracts.
Two of §1367(c)’s subsections are at issue: (1) that the state law claims raise complex or novel issues and (2) that the state-law claims substantially predominate over the federal claim.
Because the Puerto Rico law claims substantially predominate over the federal claims in this case, and because they posit novel and complex issues of state law, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. The Puerto Rico law claims are dismissed without prejudice, so that Plaintiff may re-file them in Puerto Rico courts.
Canon 21 belongs to an exclusively Puerto Rican body of law, and is decidedly different to the corresponding Model Rule of the American Bar Association, and is silent on the issue at hand of the possibility of divulging confidential information in order to pursue such a claim. The Puerto Rican courts must imbue these laws independently with important considerations of public policy.