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 user 2010-03-08 at 2:05:14 pm Views: 64
  • #23677
    Memphis advocate takes on Xerox in Latin-American legal
    Garland Reed, the African-American president of the Mid-South
    Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, finds himself in the middle of a legal
    dispute between a business executive in Costa Rica and the company whose
    name is synonymous with copying machines.Reed has attached himself to
    the cause of Ricardo Gomez, who says his printing business has been hurt
    so severely by the actions of Xerox LatinAmerican Holding, Inc., that
    he is faced with “no business and now no inheritance to leave my

    Reed, who speaks Spanish fluently, once owned several
    businesses in Latin America. In September, Gomez, who doesn’t speak
    English, retained Reed to advocate on his behalf in the United
    States.Advocacy by Reed on Gomez’s behalf brings into the picture Ursula
    M. Burns – Xerox’s first African-American chief executive officer and
    the 14th most powerful female in the world, according to Forbes
    magazine. Reed has penned a pointed letter to Burns asking her to bring
    an end to the legal dispute and Gomez’s angst.

    In her response,
    Burns said the litigation in Costa Rica “is still an ongoing matter,”
    referring further inquiries to the Xerox attorney in charge. The
    Tri-State Defender’s call to that attorney’s New York office yielded
    this written response from the director of public relations: “According
    to our legal department, the case between R.G.M. Createc S.A. and Xerox
    LatinAmerican Holdings is still pending in Costa Rica. We strongly
    disagree with the plaintiff’s portrayal of the facts; however, it is
    Xerox’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.”Final answer, said
    Xerox’s attorney in charge, Flor Colon.

    Undaunted, Reed has
    committed to push forward.

    “This is more than a legal issue,” he
    said. “This is a human rights issue. Burns is front and center of a
    storm that is blowing across Third World countries.”The 21
    Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America have been exploited too many
    times by U.S. companies, said Reed, adding, “Xerox is a giant company
    that took advantage of a small businessman and has prolonged the legal
    process until he (Gomez) exhausted all of his funds.”Even though the
    abuses didn’t happen under Burns’ watch, Reed said, “She’s thefigurehead
    and could be detained or banned from traveling to these countries.”

    it in a vault’

    In a battle of lawsuits, Gomez (R.G.M. Createc
    S.A.) is 2-0 against Xerox LatinAmerican Holding Inc., one of nearly 300
    Xerox subsidiaries worldwide. He sued Xerox, charging that the
    company’s actions led to the ruin of his printing business.In September,
    Ricardo Gomez (right) and his attorneys came to Memphis from Costa Rica
    to discuss his legal case with Garland Reed, an international
    businessman who lived in Latin America and owned businesses there. Gomez
    and the attorneys gave Reed the power of attorney to advocate for
    Gomez, who has been embroiled in a nearly decade-long court battle with
    Xerox LatinAmerican Holding Inc. (Photo by Wiley Henry)

    sued Gomez, charging that he didn’t pay his monthly payment on a lease
    agreement. On Sept. 16, 2007, the First Civil Court of San Jose ruled in
    favor of Gomez, stating, in part, that, “This type of existing contract
    lacks legal discipline, even though the lease exists and is used within
    the commercial trade.”And on Aug. 1, 2008, Magistrate Anabelle León
    Feoli of the First Division of the Supreme Court of Justice of Costa
    Rica determined that Xerox had failed – just as Gomez asserted in his
    lawsuit – to provide supplies for a Docucolor 12 machine that Gomez had
    been leasing from Xerox.The case, said Gomez, was certified, disposed
    of, and “put it in a vault” – a Costa Rican legal term for “the case is
    officially closed.”Gomez was awarded $8 million in punitive damages.
    Xerox has balked at paying that amount. Now Gomez is seeking $20

    Gomez has also asked the court to embargo (place a lien
    on) the property and assets of Xerox’s four subsidiaries in Costa Rica –
    Xerox LatinAmerican Holding, Xerox Costa Rica, Xerox Corp., and Grupo
    Di Foto.“I asked for the embargo because Xerox destroyed my business and
    my children’sinheritance,” said Gomez, who is represented by attorneys
    Rolando Guardiola and Juan Luis Guardiola.Meanwhile, Judge Luis Urena
    Monge of the Sixth Civil Court of San Jose ordered attorney Yuri Herrera
    Ulate, Xerox’s legal representative in Costa Rica, to surrender the
    company’s accounting books.“The court has to look at the books to
    determine the value of the company’s stocks and shares,” said Rolando
    Guardiola.Ulate, managing partner at the law firm of Daremblum and
    Herrera Abogados, filed an appeal in the First Civil Court of San Jose,
    but judges Gerardo Parajeles, Alvaro Hernandez and Jorge Lopez denied
    his appeal on Dec. 2.

    Ulate could not be reached for comment.
    (Ulate) said he didn’t have sufficient authority to turn over the
    books,” Gomez said.On Jan. 11, three judges – Juan Carlos Brenes, Abel
    Jimenez and Jorge Olaso – denied Ulate’s second appeal, this one filed
    in the Second Civil Court of San Jose.“The second time in court, the man
    said he didn’t have the books,” Gomez said.On Feb. 3, Judge Monge noted
    in writing that Ulate “could be criminally charged,” if he fails to
    comply with the court’s order to turn over Xerox’s accounting
    books.Gomez said he and attorney Rolando Guardiola, a court official and
    a police officer made an unannounced – and unsuccessful – visit to
    Ulate’s office on Feb. 15 to serve court papers in an attempt to obtain
    Xerox’s accounting books.Guardiola said the next attempt to serve court
    papers will be to Ulate’s home. And if Ulate doesn’t comply within five
    to 10 days, the court will consider him a fugitive of the law, Guardiola

    Making the Memphis connection
    Last September,
    Gomez and his attorneys flew to Memphis to meet with Reed, who had
    invited Gomez to participate in the 2009 Mid-South International
    Business Expo. Reed was spearheading the expo initiative.“In our
    conversation about the expo, Don Ricardo told me he had a problem and
    asked if I could help. He said he was in a legal dispute in Costa Rica
    with Xerox,” said Reed, who canceled the expo because of the uncertain

    Since Xerox is a Fortune 500 company and headquartered
    in the United States, Reed reasoned that it might be possible to use his
    influence to end the stalemate. His letter to Burns soon followed.

    translated during the Tri-State Defender’s interview with Gomez, who
    said his problems began in 2000 after he could no longer get toner and
    spare parts for the Docucolor 12 copier that he was leasing from
    Xerox.“They guaranteed me the supplies of toner and spare parts, because
    they were the only ones selling them,” Gomez said in September at
    Reed’s office in the Clark Tower building.

    Gomez had been in
    business for more than two decades prior to leasing the copier from
    Xerox, which increased his customer base significantly and grew his
    printing business twofold, he said.Gomez said business started tapering
    off toward the end of 2001 and his company, R.G.M. Createc, started
    dying.“We could no longer do the work for our clients because Xerox
    failed to provide toner and supplies,” he said.Gomez employed more than
    20 people, including his wife, Lucila, and their two children, Gabriela
    and Esteban.

    According to court documents obtained by the
    Tri-State Defender, testimony from Ana Cristina Leon Blanco, a Xerox
    salesperson, backed up Gomez’s claim that Xerox had failed to honor its
    agreement.“Sometimes the client ordered the supply and Xerox didn’t have
    it available,” Blanco testified in court. “Then the client had to wait
    until the supply arrived to Costa Rica. The time period could be weeks
    or months, depending on the supply.”Reed said Gomez wanted to leave
    something for his children.“Now his dreams have been deferred.”