UTIER sues LUMA, Quanta Services, others for defamation & cyber harassment
By Alejandra M. Jover Tovar
Special to The Star
Electrical and Irrigation Industry Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym) President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo filed a lawsuit in San Juan Superior Court on Tuesday against several companies, including LUMA Energy and Quanta Services (a LUMA parent company) for defamation, slander, cyber harassment, abusive attacks on the honor, reputation and dignity of individuals and for the improper and unauthorized use of the image and name of UTIER and its president.
The defendants are LUMA Energy; BPUMF (Boricuas Por Un Mejor Futuro/Boricuas For a Better Future) and its subsidiaries BPUMF LLC, BPUMF Inc.; Denise Malone, president of BPUMBF Inc. and chief financial officer of several subsidiaries and affiliates of Quanta Services; and Ramón Alejandro Pabón, resident agent and the person authorized to represent BPUMF in Puerto Rico.
According to the lawsuit, which seeks $2 million in damages, BPUMF managed and paid for advertisements on the “Tumba el Tumbe” social media pages for the aforementioned purposes alleged in the lawsuit.
“We have filed this lawsuit against the companies and individuals who have defamed and who, with full intent, have tarnished the image and reputation of UTIER and myself with false and misleading publications,” Figueroa Jaramillo said at a press conference, where he was accompanied by union members and attorney José Rodríguez Jiménez, UTIER’s legal representative. “All of this with the intention of exposing me and UTIER to the hatred and contempt of the people in order to influence public opinion and seek support in favor of the privatization of the transmission and distribution operations, customer service, and administration of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) through the contracting of LUMA and for the benefit of LUMA, Quanta, and others. These publications were designed to harass UTIER members and attack their honor, reputation, and dignity.”
“This has to be stopped at some point; we have to tell the country that the fact that one is a public figure cannot be subject to that, in a consensual, prepared, thought out way, a company is set up to discredit the image, to despise the person, to harass the person by cybernetic means and to create hatred toward the person,” Figueroa Jaramillo continued. “You can see that here everything is paid for. Some people said, ‘But on so-and-so’s page, it says that this is deserved.’ And other people also repeated publicly what the public page said. Other media, other so-called commentators or, as this is called, entertainers of the audience. There is a page where they collude to do that. There are videos paid for by them.”
Rodríguez Jiménez said the defendants, directly or through third parties, created in Puerto Rico a limited liability company with the name BPUMF LLC on April 8, 2021, just a week after BPUMF, Inc. was incorporated in the state of Delaware by Malone.
Figueroa Jaramillo recounted the pattern of cyber harassment and defamation.
“These ‘Tumbe al Tumbe’ people carried out a smear campaign of cyber harassment and defamation against us for more than a year,” the union leader said. “They spread all the lies and false information they could invent. They accused us of being liars, chauvinists and thieves. They accused us of committing acts of electrical sabotage. They blamed us for the disaster and bankruptcy of PREPA when everyone here knows that UTIER does not manage PREPA. They said that we had to end the thefts and blackouts produced by UTIER’s administration and that I was earning $250,000 when UTIER pays my salary. By regulation, it is the same as that of a lineman IV. All this campaign against us, a union responsible for the information it shares with the country, favors LUMA and the privatization process.”
The postings made on social networks were accessible to the public from when they were posted, in March 2021, until the “Tumba al Tumbe” pages were closed on Aug. 26 of this year.