COMITÉ FIESTAS DE LA CALLE SAN SEBASTIÁN, INC., Plaintiff, Appellant,
CARMEN YULÍN CRUZ SOTO, in her official and personal capacities; MUNICIPALITY OF SAN JUAN, Defendants, Appellees, SPANISH BROADCASTING SYSTEM OF PUERTO RICO, INC.; ALFREDO CARRASQUILLO, Defendants.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO [Hon. Francisco A. Besosa, U.S. District Judge]
A. Becker Whitaker, with whom Law Offices of Jane Becker
Whitaker was on brief, for appellant.
Héctor Benítez Arraiza and Patricia Rivera
MacMurray, with whom Quiñones, Arobona &
Candelario, PSC, Giselle M. Martínez-Velázquez,
and Raul S. Mariani-Franco were on brief, for appellees.
Howard, Chief Judge, Thompson and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Comité Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, Inc.
("the Comité") is a non-profit corporation
that promotes and helps run the Fiestas de la Calle San
Sebastián festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This
lawsuit arises from the Comité's unhappiness with
its diminished assigned role as vendor and presenter at the
2015 Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián celebration.
After discovery, the district court granted summary judgment
for San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and the
municipality of San Juan on the Comité's
trademark-infringement and First Amendment retaliation,
political discrimination, and religious discrimination
claims. We now affirm.
first survey the pertinent facts. The Fiestas de la Calle San
Sebastián is a four-day festival held in Old San Juan.
The Comité takes part in organizing and running the
festival in conjunction with the municipality of San Juan and
likens its role to that of the New York Road Runners in
planning and orchestrating the New York City Marathon.
Specifically, it "promote[s] traditional Puerto Rican
music and culture, particularly the celebration of Saint
[Sebastián]" at the festival. The Comité
purports to be the successor organization of an older group,
the Vecinos de la Calle San Sebastián, which
revitalized the festival.
2014, the Comité -- which considers itself an
apolitical entity -- publicly criticized Mayor Cruz for
deemphasizing the religious and traditional aspects of the
celebration and for "turning historic Old San Juan into
a big bar with contests to see who could drink the
most." The Comité alleges that the municipality
and Mayor Cruz, who is a member of the Popular Democratic
Party, retaliated against the Comité in various ways
in response to this criticism. Specifically, the
Comité claims that the municipality awarded it a less
advantageous vendor contract than in previous years; imposed
upon the Comité onerous certification requirements
that it did not enforce against two other vendors with
connections to the Popular Democratic Party; and granted a
coveted entertainment timeslot, during which the
Comité had previously presented traditional Puerto
Rican music, to a donor of the Popular Democratic Party.
Comité brought First Amendment political
discrimination, retaliation, and religious discrimination
claims as well as counts for trademark infringement, alleging
that the Comité owns the "Fiestas de la Calle San
Sebastián" mark. After discovery, the district
court granted summary judgment for Cruz and the municipality
on all counts. Comité Fiestas de la Calle San
Sebastián, Inc. v. Cruz, 207 F.Supp.3d 129, 148
(D.P.R. 2016). The Comité then filed a Rule 59(e)
motion for reconsideration. The Comité's
accompanying memorandum reasserted its position that the
record precluded summary judgment on the Comité's
political discrimination, trademark, and libel claims.
support of its trademark-infringement claims, the
Comité also brought new evidence from the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office (PTO) in the form of a preliminary
authorization to publish the "Fiestas de la Calle San
Sebastián" mark. Comité Fiestas de la
Calle San Sebastián, Inc. v. Cruz, No. 14-1929
(FAB), 2017 WL 6888519, at *1 (D.P.R. May 19, 2017). The
district court denied the motion, id. at *2, and
this appeal followed.
first address our jurisdiction to consider the
Comité's timely appeal. Federal Rule of Appellate
Procedure 3(c)(1)(B) requires that a notice of appeal
"designate the judgment, order, or part thereof being
appealed." While "[c]ourts will liberally construe
the requirements of Rule 3," its strictures "are
jurisdictional in nature, and their satisfaction is a