United States District Court, District of Columbia
A. HOWELL Chief Judge
plaintiff, Luis de Sousa, who is proceeding pro se,
filed this action seeking $360, 000, 000.00 in damages from
the defendant, the Embassy of the Republic of Angola, for
breach of contract, defamation, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. See Pl.'s Proposed Third
Amended Complaint (“Prop. Third. Am. Compl.”)
¶¶ 44--47, 63, ECF No. 53-1. After the Court's
resolution of nine initial motions, see De Sousa v.
Embassy of Angl., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2750 (D.D.C.
Jan. 9, 2017), the defendant has filed the pending Motion to
Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for
failure to state a claim, Def.'s Mot. Dismiss
(“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 49; Def.'s Mem.
Supp. Mot. Dismiss (“Def.'s Mem.”), ECF No.
49-1, and in response, the plaintiff seeks a third amendment
to his complaint, Pl.'s Third Mot. Amd. Compl.
(“Pl.'s Mot. Amd.”), ECF No. 53; see
also Pl.'s Reply Supp. Mot. Amend (“Pl.'s
Reply”), ECF No. 55. For the reasons set forth below,
the defendant's motion to dismiss is granted and the
plaintiff's motion is denied as futile.
below are the factual allegations made in the Proposed Third
Amended Complaint, which is difficult to understand in places
but nonetheless assumed to be true for the purpose of
resolving the pending motions.
2015, the plaintiff began performing and supervising
construction work on the Embassy of Angola at the request of
the Ambassador, whose children had been friends with the
plaintiff “from a young age.” Prop. Third Amd.
Compl. ¶¶ 11-14, 38. When submitting invoices, some
of which were billed by “[the plaintiff's]
business, Luenda Group LLC, ” the plaintiff
artificially inflated his costs to receive a
“commission, ” which commission ultimately
totaled $14, 000.. Id. ¶¶ 12, 17-18. The
Ambassador approved the commission payments, but “no
one was suppose[d] to know” about the commissions or
the details of the invoices. Id. ¶ 12--13.
number of “strange and complicated
transaction[s]” among the plaintiff's business
Luenda Group LLC, the defendant, and a subcontractor,
id. ¶¶ 13-18, the Ambassador ended the
arrangement and asked the plaintiff to repay his
“commission” because the Ambassador “did
not want the employees at the embassy to think that he doing
something unethical, ” id. ¶21-22. This
request strained the plaintiff's finances and the
parties' relationship, which was then further damaged
when the Ambassador's daughter “Mrs. Guerreiro,
” who was an Embassy employee, refused to give the
plaintiff a signed contract for the work he had been doing
because he had been “stealing” from the Embassy.
Id. ¶¶ 24-25. The relationship reached a
total breakdown in late September 2015, when Mrs.
Guerreiro's husband, whom the parties do not dispute was
not an Embassy employee, “pushed and verbally attacked
[the plaintiff's] wife and ma[de] death threats toward
[the plaintiff]” at a social event because the
plaintiff “hadn't answered [his] phone, ”
when “Mr. Guerreiro” had called him earlier.
Id. ¶ 29.
plaintiff continued to seek payment for his work after the
pushing and verbal altercation incident, but the Ambassador,
the Guerreiros, and the Ambassador's other daughter,
“Ms. Claudia, ” who was also an Embassy employee,
began a “very brutal campaign” involving
“intimidation and threats” against the plaintiff
causing him “extensive emotional distress, ” and
“defamation” that injured the plaintiff's
professional reputation. Id. ¶¶ 26-29, 30,
37-39. This campaign apparently began a few weeks after the
incident, when, at a meeting with the plaintiff, Mrs.
Guerreiro and “the financier of the Embassy”
called him “derogatory names, ”
“threatened” him, and berated him for
“overcharging the Embassy.” Id. ¶
26. The plaintiff, upset by the meeting as well as his
ongoing difficulties getting paid, went to the Ambassador,
who turned him away and told him that any financial dispute
was between him and the subcontractor. Id. ¶
27.1.Frustrated with the situation, the
plaintiff somehow “blocked . . . any contact”
with the Embassy. Id.
some time, the plaintiff was contacted by the Ambassador, who
“apologize[d]” to the plaintiff, promising him a
“newer, bigger contract” to make up for
cancelling the “commission, ” and the plaintiff
agreed to do more work on the Embassy. Id. ¶
27.2. This improved relationship apparently did not last. The
plaintiff returned to the Embassy in January 2016 to begin
his work, and on January 11, 2016, had a meeting with Ms.
Claudia and her husband, who threatened him for trying to get
a signed contract and “allud[ed] to his death.”
Id. ¶ 28. Despite this conduct, the meeting
ended with the two Embassy employees promising to help the
plaintiff get a signed contract. Id. ¶ 28. The
stress of these events caused the plaintiff health issues and
“a loss of business investment” because of his
tarnished reputation. Id. ¶¶ 40, 47, 50.
At some unspecified time during these events, the Ambassador
“one time . . . threatened [the plaintiff] with
death.” Id. ¶ 30.
February 2016, the plaintiff filed suit in this Court,
seeking $360, 000, 000.00 for breach of “verbal
contract” and related injury, id. ¶ 46,
“emotional distress, ” id. ¶¶
44, 51, 57, and “defamation, ” id.
¶¶ 42, 60. Three weeks later, Mr. Guerreiro flew to
Angola and allegedly threatened the plaintiff's brother
with “serious consequences” if the plaintiff did
not drop the case, and “a few weeks later, ” the
plaintiff's brother-in-law lost his government job.
Id. ¶ 39. At this point, the plaintiff
“began to take” the conduct of the Embassy
employees “seriously.” Pl.'s Reply at 12.
Guerreiro's trip prompted the plaintiff to amend his
complaint, to include information about what had happened to
his brother-in-law in Angola and to provide greater detail
about his previously-raised allegations. See Order,
dated May 27, 2016 (granting plaintiff's motion to amend
complaint “as a matter of course”). After
resolving a series of motions from both parties, including
two defense motions to quash for insufficient service of
process, plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the
complaint, and five motions by the plaintiff to attach
embassy property, see De Sousa, 2017 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 2750, the defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss
on grounds that the plaintiff's suit was barred because
he failed to comply with local business registration
requirements and because he failed to allege sufficient facts
to support his tort claims. Def.'s Mem. at 3-15; see
also Def.'s Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Amd.
(“Def.'s Opp'n”) at 4-11, ECF No. 54. The
Court then advised the plaintiff of the consequences of
failure to respond to a dispositive motion or to dispute
facts asserted by the movant, as required by Fox v.
Strickland, 837 F.2d 507, 509 (D.C. Cir. 1988) and
Neal v. Kelly, 963 F.2d 453, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1992).
See Order, dated January 25, 2017. In response to
the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff filed what appears to be
both an opposition to the motion to dismiss and a motion for
leave to amend the complaint for a third time. See
generally Pl.'s Mot. Amd. Both motions are now ripe
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ' possessing
‘only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.'” Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251,
256 (2013) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). Indeed, federal courts
are “forbidden . . . from acting beyond our authority,
” NetworkIP, LLC v. FCC, 548 F.3d 116, 120
(D.C. Cir. 2008), and, therefore, have “an affirmative
obligation ‘to consider whether the constitutional and
statutory authority exist . . . to hear each
dispute.'” James Madison Ltd. by Hecht v.
Ludwig, 82 F.3d 1085, 1092 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (quotation
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,
the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the
court's jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.
See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555,
561 (1992). When considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(1),
the court must accept as true all uncontroverted material
factual allegations contained in the complaint and
“construe the complaint liberally, granting plaintiff
the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the
facts alleged and upon such facts determine jurisdictional
questions.” Am. Nat'l Ins. Co., 642 F.3d
at 1139 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The
court need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff,
however, if those inferences are unsupported by facts alleged
in the complaint or amount merely to legal conclusions.
See Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C.
Cir. 2002). In evaluating subject-matter jurisdiction, the