United States District Court, D. Columbia
August 25, 2005.
NICOLAS M. HADDAD, Plaintiff,
ITT INDUSTRIES, INC., et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: HENRY KENNEDY, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Nicolas M. Haddad, a former employee of ITT Industries, Inc.
("ITT"), brings this action against ITT and Colonel Ali Al-Sarraf
("Al-Sarraf"), a Kuwaiti military officer, alleging that they
tortiously interfered with his business relationship with the
company that employed him after his termination from ITT. Haddad
also alleges that ITT unlawfully retaliated against him by
terminating his employment and violated an Indiana blacklisting
statute that prohibits employers from attempting to prevent
discharged employees from securing subsequent employment. Before
the court is defendant ITT's motion to dismiss or, in the
alternative, to transfer [# 3]. Upon consideration of the motion,
plaintiff's opposition thereto, and the record of this case, the
court concludes that this action should be transferred to the
Northern District of Indiana.
A summary of the pertinent factual allegations underlying this
is as follows. ITT is a defense contractor that is incorporated
in Indiana. In addition to offices in Indiana, ITT has offices in
New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Haddad was employed by ITT from March 1995 to January 2003,
when he was discharged. The genesis of this controversy was ITT's
efforts to market its Single Channel Ground & Airborne Radio
Systems (SINCGARS) to the Kuwaiti government, a project with
which Haddad was involved in his position as Program Manager of
ITT's Kuwait office. In 1997, an ITT internal investigation
revealed that senior ITT senior officials were "side-stepping"
Hadddad and offering bribes to members of Kuwait's military in
order to secure the contract. In late 2000, ITT managers held a
meeting with individuals who had contacted the company regarding
their ability to expedite the Kuwaiti government's approval of
the contract. While Haddad had arranged the meeting, he was
excluded from the discussions. He nevertheless continued to
negotiate with the Kuwaiti government.
As the contract negotiations intensified in early 2001, Haddad
grew concerned about a commission being paid to ITT's Kuwaiti
agent. Believing that a part of the commission was being used to
bribe Kuwaiti officials, he suggested that the amount of the
commission be reduced. In February 2001, ITT abruptly moved
Haddad from Kuwait to its Fort Wayne, Indiana, office and members
of ITT's senior management took over the SINCGARS contract
During a meeting in September 2002, Rudolph Lewis, ITT's Vice
President, announced that Haddad would be returning to Kuwait as
project manager following approval of the SINCGARS contract.
However, although ITT secured the SINCGARS contract with Kuwait
in mid-October 2002, by late December 2002 Haddad still had not
been told when he would return to Kuwait. In early January 2003, an updated organizational chart for the
Kuwait project was distributed in ITT's Fort Wayne office. The
chart listed Haddad as being employed in "Export Production"
instead of as a "Project Manager" and, during a staff meeting on
January 9, 2003, an announcement was made that ITT was conducting
interviews for a new project manager in Kuwait. When Haddad
stated that he thought he was the project manager he did not
receive a response.
The legal obligations ITT faced under Kuwait law relating to
the SINCGARS contract were also addressed at the January 9th
meeting. In addition to tax obligations, ITT was required to set
aside 30 percent of the contract value to pay a Kuwaiti offset
company. In accordance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,
the offset company could not have any "connection with members of
the Kuwait government and military who have any authority to
approve or implement the contract." Compl. ¶ 20. John Noble,
ITT's Marketing Manager, however, announced that Al-Sarraf had
agreed to help ITT with the offset issue. Noble explained that
Al-Sarraf was being promoted within the Kuwaiti military, and
that he "was going to give ITT a lot of business over $100
million since the Colonel's family owns part of the offset
company with whom ITT has agreed to work." Id. ¶ 40. After the
meeting, Haddad confronted Noble about the offset plan, which he
believed to be illegal.
Shortly after the meeting concluded, Haddad met with his
supervisors who told him "not to discuss issues outside ITT."
Id. ¶ 43. Thereafter, one of the supervisors gave Haddad a
performance evaluation for March 2001 December 2002, which
contained goals and objectives that Haddad had never seen before,
and which rated his performance negatively. Haddad had not
received a poor evaluation while working at ITT prior to this
time. Because he believed the negative evaluation was being used to force him to quit, Haddad
questioned the validity of the evaluation. Shortly thereafter, he
was terminated without pay and has since had difficulty locating
ITT seeks to have this action dismissed or transferred pursuant
to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(3). In ruling on a 12(b)(3) motion, "the
court accepts the plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations
regarding venue as true, draws all reasonable inferences from
those allegations in the plaintiff's favor, and resolves any
factual conflicts in the plaintiff's favor." Darby v. United
States Dep't of Energy, 231 F. Supp. 2d 274, 276 (D.D.C. 2002)
(citing 2215 Fifth St. Assocs. v. U-Haul Int'l, Inc.,
148 F. Supp. 2d. 50, 54 (D.D.C. 2001)). When as here, federal
jurisdiction is not based solely upon diversity of citizenship,
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) controls. Section 1391(b) provides that:
A civil action wherein jurisdiction is not founded
solely on diversity of citizenship may, except as
otherwise provided by law, be brought only in (1) a
judicial district where all defendants reside, if all
defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial
district in which a substantial part of the events or
omissions giving rise to the claim occurred . . . or
(3) a judicial district in which any defendant may be
found, if there is no district in which the action
may otherwise be brought.
28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
If the venue requirements of section 1391(b) are not met, the
court must "dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice,
transfer such case." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).
The court agrees with ITT that the District of Columbia is an
improper venue for this action. Under section 1391(b)(1), the
District of Columbia would be a proper venue only if ITT and Ali-Al Sarraf resided here. While ITT resides in the
District of Columbia,*fn1 Ali-Al Sarraf does not. Al-Sarraf
is a citizen and resident of Kuwait. Haddad's assertion that
28 U.S.C. § 1391(d) operates to make the District of Columbia a
proper venue, despite Al-Sarraf's residency elsewhere, because it
provides that "[a]n alien may be sued in any district"
28 U.S.C. § 1391(d), is without merit. The mere fact that an alien may be
sued in any district pursuant to section 1391(d) does not
establish that an alien is a resident of a particular district or
state. See Dee-K Enters., Inc. v. Heveafil Sdn. Bhd.,
985 F. Supp. 640, 644 (E.D. Va. 1997).
The District of Columbia also is not a proper venue for this
action under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). Under § 1391(b)(2), the
District of Columbia would be a proper venue if "a substantial
part of the events or omissions giving rise to [plaintiff's
claims] occurred here. A fair reading of plaintiff complaint
clearly reveals that none of the alleged events or omissions
giving rise to plaintiff's claims occurred here. The three events
mentioned by Haddad in his complaint that took place in the
District of Columbia took place after his termination and, thus,
cannot be said to have given rise to any of his claims.*fn2
Finally, the District of Columbia is not a proper venue for
this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(3). Under § 1391(b)(3), the
District of Columbia would be a proper venue for this action,
only "if there is no [other] district in which the action may
otherwise be brought." As ITT points out, this action may be brought against it in the Northern
District of Indiana. Further, to the extent that Al-Sarraf is not
entirely immune from suit, for the reasons he sets forth in his
motion to dismiss, he is "otherwise" amenable to suit there.
For the foregoing reasons and because the court concludes that
it is in the interest of justice to transfer this case rather
than dismiss it, it is this 25th day of August, 2005, hereby
ORDERED that this action is transferred to the Northern
District of Indiana.
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