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DBA Business Structure Does Not Shield Its Venturers From Liability And Can Prove Risky

DBA Business Structure Does Not Shield Its Venturers From Liability And Can Prove Risky

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court issued an Opinión on June 22, 2007 in the case of Rivera Hernández et als. vs. Comtec Communication et als., 2007 TSPR 131, a case of first impresión on the subject of the individual liability of the venturers of an unincorporated (d/b/a) business in Puerto Rico.  The Opinion confirms that the venturers of an unincorporated business who cause damages to another party are jointly liable for the damages caused by them in the furtherance of the business. This theory of liability stems from the general principle that everyone who jointly causes harm to another through fault or negligence is responsible for the ensuing damages. 
 
Moreover, the high court held that service of process, of a copy of the Complaint and the Summons directed to the business, upon one of the venturers is enough to subject all of the venturers to the jurisdiction of the court.  After liability is determined, any other venturers who have not appeared before the Court or otherwise not participated of the proceedings may be summoned to appear in court and show cause as to why the Judgment should not stand against them as well. In this case, one of the business venturers allegedly hired a receptionist for the business, but after just only three days on the job, she was terminated because of a physical handicap.  After a trial, all of the venturers were held jointly liable for the damages proven to the Court.


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