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Dalal v. Goldman Sachs & Co.

May 7, 2007

SANDEEP DALAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GOLDMAN SACHS & CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pro se plaintiff Sandeep Delal brings this case, in the main, to challenge an arbitration award arising out of an employment dispute between himself and defendant Goldman, Sachs & Co. ("Goldman, Sachs"). Currently pending before the Court are defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. In its motion, defendant argues that plaintiff's claim under the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") is time-barred and that any other claims should be dismissed for lack of service. In his motion, plaintiff argues that he is entitled to relief as a matter of law on both his arbitration and common law claims. Upon consideration of the motions, the responses and replies thereto, the applicable law, and the entire record, the Court determines that plaintiff's FAA claim is time-barred, but that plaintiff's failure to properly serve process does not warrant dismissal of his remaining claims.

Therefore, for the reasons stated herein, defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part without prejudice, and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a former employee of Goldman, Sachs who left the firm in August 1999. In October 2004, plaintiff filed a Statement of Claim against defendant with the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE"), claiming that he was contractually owed additional compensation. The matter was arbitrated over four days in November 2005 before a panel of NYSE arbitrators in Washington, D.C. On November 25, 2005, the panel issued its award, granting plaintiff $25,000. The award was sent to the parties on December 7, 2005.

On December 1, 2005, in anticipation of the arbitrators issuing the award, plaintiff requested of the NYSE that his name be removed from the award before it became publically available. Defendant consented to the request, and the NYSE sent the parties a revised version of the award on January 20, 2006. On February 8, 2006, plaintiff submitted to the NYSE a "Request for Modification of the Award," to which defendant responded on February 22, 2006. On March 9, 2006, the parties were notified that the panel had denied the request for modification. Unlike the award, this notification was not signed by the arbitrators.

Plaintiff filed his complaint in this Court on June 8, 2006. Several claims in the complaint allege that the arbitration award should be modified for various reasons. Plaintiff also claims that defendant is directly liable under theories of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment. In support of his arbitration claims, plaintiff relies on the Uniform Arbitration Act, the FAA, District of Columbia law, and New York law.

According to defendant, plaintiff attempted to effect service by mailing the complaint, using Express Mail, to defendant's counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell, LLP, on October 2, 2006. Decl. of Jordan Razza ¶ 3. Defendant's counsel received the complaint on October 3, 2006. Plaintiff has not disputed this account of the events. On October 23, 2006, defendant filed its motion to dismiss the complaint. Defendant argues that unless plaintiff is proceeding under the FAA, his complaint was not properly served under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4. In addition, defendant argues that plaintiff's FAA claim is time-barred and, in the alternative, fails on its merits.

On December 7, 2006, plaintiff filed his motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff argues that as a matter of law, he is entitled to a modification of the arbitration award under District of Columbia Code section 16 and the common law, and that he is entitled to damages based on his quantum meruit and unjust enrichment claims.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim should be granted when it appears "beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1114 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). In addition, a complaint will be liberally construed on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Warren v. Dist. of Columbia, 353 F.3d 36, 37 (D.C. Cir. 2004). The Court will accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint, and give plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be drawn from the facts alleged. See Atchinson v. District of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 422 (D.C. Cir. 1996). "Moreover, consistent with the leniency afforded pro se plaintiffs, the Court must make a concerted effort to discern a cause of action from the record presented if an action is in fact discernable." Howerton v. Ogletree, 466 F. Supp. 2d 182, 183 (D.D.C. 2006).

A party can move the court to dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5). "[T]he party on whose behalf service is made has the burden of establishing its validity when challenged; to do so, he must demonstrate that the procedure employed satisfied the requirements of the relevant portions of Rule 4 and any other applicable provision of law." Light v. Wolf, 816 F.2d 746, 751 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

ANALYSIS

I. Plaintiff's FAA ...


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