United States District Court, D. Columbia
October 17, 2005.
OWEN ODDMAN, Plaintiff,
P.J. PATTERSON, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: COLLEEN KOTELLY, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon review of Plaintiff's
pro se complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff, a
Jamaican citizen imprisoned in the Federal Correctional
Institution in Jessup, Georgia, alleges that Jamaica, the
country's Prime Minister, and its consular officials have denied
him access to the Jamaican consulate. Plaintiff's claim is based
on Article 5 of the Vienna Convention, which details consular
functions. See Multilateral Vienna Convention on Consular
Relations and Optional Protocol on Disputes, art. 36, Dec. 14,
1969, 21 U.S.T. 77; see also Complaint, Attachment. He brings
this action under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 and
seeks $10 million in damages.
Plaintiff has the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). The
Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (" FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1602 et
seq. is the sole basis for obtaining jurisdiction over a foreign
state in this Court. See Argentine Republic v. Amerada Hess
Shipping Corp., 488 U.S. 428, 434 (1989). Foreign sovereigns are
immune from suit in the United States unless the action falls
under one of the specific exceptions enumerated in the FSIA.
Price v. Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,
389 F.3d 192, 196 (D.C. Cir. 2004). Under the FSIA, the foreign state has "immunity from trial and the attendant burdens of litigation, and
not just a defense to liability." Foremost-McKeeson, Inc. v.
Islamic Republic, 905 F.2d 438, 443 (D.C. Cir. 1990).
The FSIA's exemptions to immunity from suit encompass actions
where the foreign state has waived immunity, the suit involves
commercial activity or property, or the foreign state has
committed a tortious act. See 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(1)-(7).
Plaintiff has not made any allegation that would lead the Court
to conclude that the FSIA does not apply to the actions of the
foreign state of Jamaica. As to the individually named
defendants, "an official-capacity claim against a government
official is in substance a claim against the government itself. . . .
By definition, a damages judgment in an official-capacity
suit is enforceable against the state itself (and only against
the state)." Cicippio-Puleo v. Islamic Republic of Iran,
353 F.3d 1024, 1034 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). Morever,
consular officers and employees are not subject to suit for acts
performed in the exercise of consular functions. See Park v.
Shin, 313 F.3d 1138, 1142 (9th Cir. 2002); Koeppel &
Koeppel v. Federal Republic of Nigeria, 704 F.Supp. 521, 524
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2) provides that "as soon as practicable
after docketing" the court shall dismiss a complaint that "seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."
Because the Court concludes that the Defendants are immune from
suit under the FSIA, the case will be dismissed. A separate order
accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
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