Photo of Richard  Graffam

Richard Graffam

Capital Member, Litigation Practice Group
787.250.5638 | rg@mcvpr.com

Biography

Mr. Graffam’s practice includes general civil and commercial litigation and consulting, including products liability, maritime casualties and distributor and franchise law in state and federal courts as well as before arbitrators.

Other areas of his practice have been construction arbitration cases; insurance defense (he recently obtained the dismissal of a lawsuit against Travelers involving an explosion at a local brewery, Cervecería India); shareholder derivative suits and securities.

Mr. Graffam is ranked in the Litigation field of The Best Lawyers in Puerto Rico guide. Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

He has been on various federal merit and judicial selection committees and is an adjunct professor of law at the Interamerican School of Law, teaching Federal Practice and Jurisdiction. He has lectured extensively at various conventions, seminars and law schools on e-discovery, federal practice, international arbitration and doing business in Latin America, among other subjects.

Mr. Graffam has been on the Executive Boards of the Inter American Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association. He was the President of the local Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and Editor in Chief and founder of its award-winning newsletter, From the Bar. He recently wrote a chapter on attorney-client privilege in Puerto Rico for a book titled "Attorney-Client Privilege in the Americas: Professional Secrecy of Lawyers"  to be published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press for the ABA. The book covers in detail how this subject is addressed in over 32 jurisdictions in the Americas, including the Caribbean.

He joined McConnell Valdés in 1990. Prior to joining the firm, he served as a law clerk to United States District Court, Judge Raymond L. Acosta in the District of Puerto Rico and helped Judge Acosta with the management of the DuPont Hotel Fire Litigation, one of the largest mass tort and multi-district cases in the history of the United States.

Representative Cases

Some of his representative cases include:

  • Successfully defended MetLife Insurance Company of Connecticut and Primerica Financial Services in a securities arbitration case, FINRA Case No. 11-02104. Claimant, a trust, brought several causes of action against various respondents, which included unauthorized trading, churning, unsuitability, failure to supervise, breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent inducement. Claimant requested over $2.6 million dollars in damages. After holding an evidentiary hearing that lasted for fifteen sessions (9 days), the Panel denied Claimant’s claims in their entirety and awarded costs in favor of MetLife Insurance Company of Connecticut and Primerica Financial Services.
  • In a recent mediation, a well-known multinational client he represented obtained a substantial settlement against the largest cement producer in the world on the issue of permeability of a bridge. Likewise, Mr. Graffam obtained a nominal settlement in an improvements claim that additional work on interiors of a large building was not the expense of the lessee by attacking the lessor’s computation of “standard operating costs”.
  • He was involved in extensive litigation representing the Red Cross in Transfusion-Associated HIV cases, the great majority of which were dismissed. He developed the novel idea that the Red Cross, as an instrumentality of the federal government, was not subject to jury trials; an argument that was adopted not only in Puerto Rico but also in many jurisdictions in the mainland.
  • Mr. Graffam was one of the first attorneys to successfully invoke the 1990 Oil Pollution Act remedial proceedings in helping a beachfront hotel, the Caribe Hilton, obtain substantial oil damagerecovery and monetary restitution in the wake of the Morris Berman barge grounding that spilled thousands of barrels of Bunker C oil into the Condado Lagoon.
  • He has extensive experience in consulting, litigating and arbitrating cases involving Puerto Rico’s Dealer Protection Act (“Law 75”) often obtaining favorable declaratory judgments and injunctions and defeating many distributor injunctions in both federal and local court, which have led to quick resolutions either by dismissal or settlement.
  • Shortly after joining McConnell Valdés, Mr. Graffam prepared and litigated a Commerce Clause federal lawsuit representing Miller and Heineken in a challenge to Puerto Rico’s 25-year-old protective regulation that required all bottled beer to be in dark brown glass, among other limitations. After discovery, Mr. Graffam obtained a very favorable settlement allowing among other things, that Miller and Heineken use their traditional white and green bottles. That litigation revolutionized the beer market in Puerto Rico to this day.

Practices

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Education

B.S., with High Distinction, University of Michigan

J.D., Magna Cum Laude, University of Connecticut School of Law

Memberships

Puerto Rico Bar Association

Federal Bar Association

Hispanic National Bar Association

Inter-American Bar Association

American Bar Association

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