Lawmaker vows to fight ‘shameful & embarrassing’ Clemente family lawsuit
By John McPhaul
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Ángel Matos García on Monday described as “shameful and embarrassing” a lawsuit filed by the children of Roberto Clemente for the collection of commissions on sales of commemorative inspection stickers, or “marbetes” as they’re known on the island, and license plates marking the 50th anniversary of the Puerto Rican baseball legend’s 3,000th hit.
“The legal action against these initiatives does not take me by surprise, because since last year the Clemente family had announced that they wanted to receive money for family use from the commemorative stickers and license plates,” Matos García said. “However, they do not include Law 67 on the transfer of land in the lawsuit, recognizing what is obviously clear, that what a legislative assembly delivers in 1973, a legislative assembly in 2022 can withdraw. For our part, we will be providing technical and legal support to the government of Puerto Rico to address this situation.”
The Carolina legislator said he doesn’t rule out using files and the necessary expertise included in the legal action “to combat this frivolous, embarrassing and shameful lawsuit, which includes as a legal theory that if someone uses the color yellow, they must give money to the Clementes, as the lawsuit says.”
“Today is certainly a sad day for Puerto Rican sports and once again it has been shown that profit and personal gain is what drives the children of Puerto Rican star Roberto Clemente,” he added.
The lawsuit filed in federal court claims compensation of $3,150,000 for the family of Clemente, who died in a plane crash off the Carolina coast on Dec. 31, 1972 while attempting to deliver earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua. The Puerto Rican star’s family heirs filed the lawsuit last Friday for alleged infringement of copyright and proprietary rights.
Matos García noted that copyright and trademark theories are used in the lawsuit, in which the Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and the secretaries of the Treasury and Recreation & Sports are being sued, along with the head of the Convention District Authority.
“We will fight in court and once we win this case, we will take legal action against this family so that they desist from these mechanisms of blackmail and extortion whereby on several occasions either studio artists in the country, the Convention District, private companies, and memorabilia collectors, among others, have been victims of the Clemente family, who usually threaten them by letter to get money from them,” the majority leader in the House of Representatives said. “It’s time to put an end to this. We will fight in the federal, state forums or wherever we have to intervene.”