Plaintiffs Appeal Summary Judgment in Breach-of-Contract Suit Over Puerto Rican Soda Coco Rico

On Thursday, Plaintiffs involved with Puerto Rican soda brand Coco Rico appealed the Southern District of New York’s dismissal of its breach-of-contract claims against the company’s purchasers. At issue on appeal the district court’s grant of summary judgment, its resultant judgment, and its denial of the plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider. The Second Circuit briefing is forthcoming.

The lawsuit relates to Puerto Rican soda brand Coco Rico, which was owned by CCR International, Inc. (CCR), and the family of José Fuertes, which operated the company. In 2008, CCR sold the Coco Rico assets to CCR Development Group, Inc. (CCRDG), which later defaulted on its payments. CCR turned to a longtime Coco Rico distributor, Elias Group, LLC (Elias), for help. In 2013, CCR assigned CCRDG’s debt to Elias, in exchange for Elias paying CCR some cash, as well as Elias promising to seek to buy Coco Rico. And in 2015, Elias did buy the Coco Rico assets.   

In August 2015, CCR and CCRDG sued Elias, alleging a host of claims, including breaches of contract, trademark infringement, unfair competition, and fraudulent inducement. The plaintiffs sought damages of between $4.7 million and $8.4 million. The claims surrounded CCR’s and CCRDG’s claims of Elias’s wrongdoing.

But in December 2020, the court granted Elias’s summary-judgment motion in full, denying CCR Parties’ motion in full — finding that Elias met its contractual obligations to CCR, CCRDG, and Fuertes. The court then dismissed the Fuentes and CCR parties’ breach-of-contract claim, leaving only the plaintiffs’ claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and defendant’s counterclaims. Specifically, the court held that Elias met its contractual obligations to the CCR parties, and found that Elias did not owe either CCR another $8.5 million nor Fuertes an annual salary of $180,000.” The court entered judgment on the dismissed claims

On August 2, 2021, CCR moved to amend the judgment against it, based on alleged error. but only four days later, August 6, the court denied CCR’s motion, finding that it had not committed any error.

A few days later, on August 12, CCR filed a motion seeking reconsideration of the court’s August 6 order.  But on August 16, the court again denied CCR’s motion, holding held that “CCR has not shown any change of law, new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent a manifest injustice,” but “[i]nstead, it merely recapitulates the arguments in the motion to amend that the Court denied.”  

On Thursday, CCR Development Group, Inc. and CCR International, Inc. filed an appeal with the Second Circuit.  In the underlying litigation, CCR is represented by Becker Vissepo and Elias is represented by Sherman Silverstein Kohl Rose & Podolsky.