Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza Inc. sues town of Río Grande for $6M
The Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza Inc. (CSILO) is suing the Municipality of Río Grande, including its mayor and several legislators, for nearly $6 million in damages related to a property that the nonprofit bought, but that the town allegedly seized through an ordinance.
In the lawsuit filed at the US District Court for Puerto Rico, the nonprofit claimed the municipal government violated the US Constitution’s Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment that addresses unjust enrichment.
The issues explained in the lawsuit date to Feb. 3, 2020, when CSILO — a federally qualified health center that provides primary care to indigent patients and communities — purchased a property in Río Grande, which was occupied by the municipality’s Superior Court until October 2017.
The nonprofit paid $3.6 million for the property, with plans to transfer and start their operations there by late 2021.
But prior to moving in, CSILO had to remodel the property, for which it contracted a third party for the design and remodeling work, estimated at another $2.5 million, according to the lawsuit.
CSILO began to make the arrangements to pay $101,850 in construction excise taxes to the municipal government, which it rejected in April 2021 because “it had issued an ordinance where they will be exercising their eminent domain power to take the property away from CSILO,” the lawsuit stated.
Municipal legislators passed the ordinance on Oct. 21, 2020, which Río Grande Mayor Ángel González-Damudt signed five days later.
“The Municipality Ordinance states that it will take the Property of CSILO via eminent domain to establish new administrative offices for the Municipality and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,” according to the lawsuit. The ordinance also states the town would pay CSILO $3.5 million for the property.
Because CSILO has been unable to vacate its current premises, it is paying for their use as a penalty for staying, the nonprofit explained. CSILO also stated that the municipality has not made any moves to pay it the amount it promised, for which it is blaming the mayor and several municipal legislators.
“The Municipality, the Mayor and the Municipal Legislators are liable for no less than $6 million for the just compensation of the taking,” the nonprofit told the federal court in its lawsuit.
If the town and politicians cannot pay, the nonprofit has asked the legal forum to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction against the municipality, the mayor and the municipal legislators, “so that they cease and desist from continuing with the taking of the property from CSILO.”
“CSILO suffers irreparable harm by being prohibited to develop, use and enjoy the Property for an indeterminate amount of time, when the Municipality, the Mayor and the Municipality Legislators do not have sufficient funds to pay the just compensation for the taking of the property,” the nonprofit claimed.
CSILO asked for a trial by jury.