United States District Court, District of Columbia
For WYE OAK TECHNOLOGY, INC., Plaintiff: John J. Pavich, Robert J. Pavich, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, PAVICH LAW GROUP, P.C., Chicago, IL; John Harvey Quinn, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, QUINN,RACUSIN & GAZZOLA CHARTERED, Washington, DC.
For REPUBLIC OF IRAQ, Defendant: Craig Crandall Reilly, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alexandria, VA; Tennant David Magee, Timothy B. Mills, MAGGS & MCDERMOTT, LLC, Washington, DC.
Royce C. Lamberth, Chief United States District Judge.
This is a breach of contract action brought by an American defense contractor, Wye Oak Technology, against the Republic of Iraq. Defendant Iraq moves for partial reconsideration of an opinion issued by Judge Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia concerning the adequacy of service of process. Def.'s Mot. for Reconsideration, ECF No. 64. Iraq also moves to dismiss the action on grounds of forum non conveniens, naming Iraq as the proper forum. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 66. The Court denies both motions.
A. Factual Background
In 2004, Wye Oak, an American defense contractor, entered into agreements with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense to buy and sell arms. Wye Oak Tech., Inc. v. Republic of Iraq, 2010 WL 2613323, at *1-2 (E.D. Va. June 29, 2010), aff'd, 666 F.3d 205 (4th Cir. 2011). Wye Oak undertook a variety of actions in Iraq and the United States to perform its obligations under the
contract,  and sought payment of roughly $24 million. In December 2004, while traveling by car to Baghdad to collect payment on this contract, two Wye Oak personnel including the president of the company, Dale Stoffel, were killed by unidentified gunmen. Id. Both parties agree that the murders remain unsolved. Pl.'s Opp'n 4, ECF No. 70; Def.'s Reply 8, ECF No. 71. Wye Oak refers to the killings as " assassination[s]," and suggests that they were linked to Wye Oak's work as a defense contractor. Pl.'s Opp'n 4. Iraq notes that the FBI has not " linked [Dale Stoffel's] death to a known terrorist group or to this contract dispute with the Iraqi government." Def.'s Reply 8. The current president of the company is Dale Stoffel's brother, David Stoffel. He claims to have received death threats following his brother's murder in 2005. Decl. of David J. Stoffel ¶ ¶ 5-8 & Exs. 1-3.
Wye Oak continued to perform under the agreements after the murders but claims that it never received payment. Wye Oak Tech, 2010 WL 2613323, at *1-2.
B. Procedural Background
Wye Oak filed this action in 2009 in the Eastern District of Virginia. On October 8, 2009, Wye Oak attempted mail service on Iraq pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3) by causing the clerk of the court to issue a summons to the " Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs" of Iraq, which was delivered, along with a copy of the complaint, to the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, D.C., via FedEx. As no signed receipt was ever returned from this mailing, Wye Oak then commenced service via diplomatic channels pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4). This service was made on December 27, 2009. See Return of Service, ECF No. 14.
Iraq moved to dismiss arguing, inter alia, that Wye Oak " did not satisfy the mandatory service requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)." Iraq did not dispute that it was actually served via diplomatic channels. Instead, it argued that Wye Oak never properly attempted mail service under § 1608(a)(3) because it sent the package to the Iraqi embassy in Washington, D.C., rather than to Iraq, and, since the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) authorizes diplomatic service under 1608(a)(4) only
where a party has first properly attempted mail service under § 1608(a)(3), the
diplomatic service was invalid.
Judge Trenga rejected this argument and found that " attempted service through the Embassy [did] not render service ineffective." He reasoned that (1) " Wye Oak was not serving the Embassy itself or personnel within the Embassy, but rather attempting to use the Embassy as a conduit" ; (2) Wye Oak reasonably believed that the insecurity in Iraq rendered service of a government official there impossible; and (3) § 1608(a)(3) does not prohibit this method of delivery. Id. 
II. IRAQ'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS DENIED
" [A]ny order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties . . . may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment . . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). " Interlocutory orders are not subject to the law of the case doctrine and may always be reconsidered prior to final judgment" even when a case is reassigned to a new judge. Langevine v. District of Columbia, 106 F.3d 1018, 1023, 323 U.S.App. D.C. 210 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Courts in this district grant reconsideration " as justice requires." See Cobell v. Norton, 355 F.Supp.2d 531, 539 (D.D.C. 2005).
Iraq's motion to reconsider will be denied. The Court takes no position regarding Judge Trenga's analysis. Even if Judge Trenga's analysis was incorrect and Wye Oak's mail service attempt was invalid, no injustice would result here since ...