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Jiggi v. The Republic of Cameroon

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 19, 2018

URBAIN TAH JIGGI, Plaintiff,
v.
THE REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON, etal., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

         1. Introduction.

         Plaintiff Urbain Tah Jibbi, ("Plaintiff"), a citizen of The Republic of Cameroon and a permanent resident of the United States, commenced this action on August 23, 2018. (D.I. 2) He proceeds pro se and has been granted in forma pauperis status. Plaintiff filed this action alleging human rights violations and asserts jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS"), 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1602, et seq. (D.I. 2)

         2. Background.

         Plaintiff resides in Delaware. He alleges Defendant The Republic of Cameroon ("Republic of Cameroon") is carrying out torture, kidnapping, mass arson, murder, property destruction, and many other on-going human rights violations. Plaintiff alleges the Republic of Cameroon signed a "commercial deal" with Defendant Squire Patton Boggs ("Squire Patton"), a law firm located in Washington, D.C., and Defendant Mercury LLC ("Mercury"), a company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and that these Defendants are aiding and abetting the commission of human rights violations. (D.I. 2 at 3) Plaintiff alleges under 28 U.S.C. § 1605, the "commercial deal" lifts the Republic of Cameroon's immunity under the FSIA.

         3. The Complaint alleges the United States of America signed an agreement with the Republic of Cameroon to provide military assistance to combat terrorism. The agreement provided that the military equipment was to be used only for that purpose. The Complaint does not provide the date of the agreement. The Complaint alleges the government of Cameroon has used the military equipment to kill and maim children, old women, and innocent civilians, and the weapons have been used in extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in the English speaking part of Cameroon within the space of two years. The Complaint does not provide dates of the alleged human rights violations.

         4. The Complaint alleges the government of Cameroon has been able to "get away with these crimes" because it hires firms, like Defendants, to portray a clean image of the country. Plaintiff alleges that in August 2018, the government of Cameroon signed deals costing millions of dollars to lobby for the government of Cameroon and to give the "poor nation a good name." (D.I. 2 at 5) The Complaint further alleges that the millions of dollars in aid Cameroon receives from the United States is used to pay for services such as those offered by Squire Patton and Mercury.

         5. The Complaint alleges that Squire Patton and Mercury were paid to paint Cameroon President Paul Biya ("Biya")[1] (who was seeking reelection) and his government in a false light to enable him to stay in power, benefit from American taxpayer money, continue to gain personally from the money, and commit human rights violations[2] with American-issued military equipment. The Complaint alleges that the United States relies upon companies like Squire Patton and Mercury when making aid decisions. It alleges that most of the aid money is embezzled but does not indicate who embezzles the money.

         6. Plaintiff alleges that he is affected by the actions of the government of Cameroon, which is "being aided and abetted by Defendants." (D.I. 2 at 7) Plaintiff alleges his property has been burned by the Army of Cameroon and his businesses have suffered from the war waged by the Cameroon Army on English speakers. The Complaint does not indicate when Plaintiff allegedly suffered these losses.

         7. For relief, Plaintiff asks the Court to order the government of Cameroon to allow U.N. investigators into the country; void the contracts with Squire Patton and Mercury, and refund the monies paid them to the people of Cameroon; and ban Defendants (presumably Squire Patton and Mercury) from entering into commercial contracts with the government of President Biya.

         8. Standard of Review.

         A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) if "the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013). The Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his Complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).

         9. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), a court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or a "clearly baseless" or "fantastic or delusional" factual scenario. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989); see, e.g., Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1091-92 (3d Cir. 1995) (holding frivolous a suit alleging that prison officials took an inmate's pen and refused to give it back).

         10. The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999) (applying Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard to dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)). However, before dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court must grant Plaintiff leave to amend his Complaint unless amendment would be inequitable or futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d Cir. 2002).

         11. A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544 (2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City of Shelby,135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, ...


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