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Jiggi v. The Republic of Cameroon

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 16, 2019

URBAIN TAH JIGGI, Plaintiff,
v.
THE REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON, SQUIRE PATTON BOGGS, and MERCURY LLC, 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. (D.I. 4) 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) Upon screening, the Court dismissed the original Complaint and gave Plaintiff leave to amend. (D.I. 5, 6) Plaintiff timely filed an Amended Complaint. (D.I. 7)

         2. Background.

         The Amended Complaint states that Plaintiff is an attorney, licensed to practice in Delaware where he resides. (D.I. 7 at 1) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant The Republic of Cameroon ("Republic of Cameroon") signed an agreement with Defendants law firms, Squire Patton Boggs ("Squire") and Mercury LLC ("Mercury") (together "law firms") to provides lobbying services in the United States on behalf of the Cameroon government. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Squire and Mercury "assist the government of Cameroon in securing loans and aid from the United States government" and that "[m]ost of this aid is diverted and used to kill innocent civilians and burn down hundreds of thousands of property [sic] across the war zones. (Id.)

         3. Plaintiff alleges that war broke out in Cameroon in December 2016, is ongoing, and getting worse, (/c/.)[1] He alleges that specific dates for human rights violations cannot be provided during an ongoing war, but atrocities occur daily. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he lost all of his clients because of the war raging in Cameroon. (Id.) More particularly, he alleges that he has been unable to provide legal services to his clients who reside in Delaware as "a direct consequence of the war waged by the government of Cameroon, with the assistance of their lobbyists at Squire and Mercury." (Id.) He explains that the courts in Cameroon have been shut down, schools are no longer functioning, his clients in Delaware need the services of the courts in Cameroon, and most need academic services for their "US children who study abroad in Cameroon." (Id.)

         4. Plaintiff alleges that the contracts at issue were signed in the United States for services being performed in the United States. (Id.) He alleges the "atrocities of Cameroon are being carried out [in Cameroon] and the direct consequence" is that Plaintiff, a United States permanent resident, is "being affected by the atrocities while physically" in the United States. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, the foregoing circumstances make the FSIA applicable. He also alleges the ATS applies because he has suffered loss of income in the United States. (Id.) Plaintiff states that if the Court "will be patient enough and not hurriedly dismiss [the] lawsuit, it will be proven at discovery that nothing sinister happens in Cameroon or other dictatorships in Africa without the assistance of lobbying firms in the USA." (Id. at 2) For relief, Plaintiff seeks $150, 000 for loss of income, angst, and hardship suffered by the direct impact of [defendants'] actions. (Id.)

         5. 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). Generally, when a 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). Plaintiff, however, alleges that he is "a licensed Foreign Legal Consultant and member of the Delaware State Bar" (see D.I. 7 at 1), and the Court does not extend the indulgence of the pro se liberal construction rule to pro se litigants who, like Plaintiff, are also attorneys. See Tatten v. Bank of Am. Corp., 562 Fed.Appx. 718, 720 (10th Cir. 2014) (citing Committee on the Conduct of Attorneys v. Oliver, 510 F.3d 1219, 1223 (10th Cir. 2007)).

         6. 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).

         7. 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 can 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).

         8. 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, 574 U.S. 10 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 10.

         9. Under the pleading regime established by Twombly and Iqbal, a court reviewing the sufficiency of ...


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