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Law Offices of Arman Dabiri & Associates P.L.L.C. v. Agricultural Bank of Sudan

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 16, 2019

LAW OFFICES OF ARMAN DABIRI & ASSOCIATES P.L.L.C., Plaintiff,
v.
AGRICULTURAL BANK OF SUDAN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          RANDOLPH D. MOSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, the Law Offices of Arman Dabiri & Associates, P.L.L.C., is suing the Agricultural Bank of Sudan (“ABS”), the Central Bank of Sudan, the Ministry of Agriculture an Forests, and Salah Edin Hassan Ahmed, the General Manager of ABS, for breach of a retainer agreement. The matter is before the Court on the institutional defendants' motion to dismiss, Dkt. 12, and defendant Ahmed's motion to dismiss, Dkt. 14. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will GRANT the institutional defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to the Central Bank of Sudan and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and will DENY the motion with respect to ABS. The Court will also DENY defendant Ahmed's motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         For purposes of the pending motion, the Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the complaint, Dkt. 1. See Wood v. Moss, 572 U.S. 744, 755 n.5 (2014); see also Williams v. Ellerbe, 317 F.Supp.3d 144, 146 (D.D.C. 2018).

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff, the Law Offices of Arman Dabiri & Associates, is “a professional limited liability company existing under the laws of, and doing business in, the District of Columbia.” Dkt. 1 at 2 (Compl. ¶ 2) (capitalization omitted). “On or about March 2017, [Plaintiff] was contacted by [ABS] through a designated agent, seeking legal representation and legal counsel for [ABS] in the United States.” Id. at 6 (Compl. ¶ 17). At the time, the United States was “loosening . . . sanctions against Sudan, ” which had long been designated as “a State Sponsor of Terrorism, ” “on a probationary basis.” Id. at 4, 6 (Compl. ¶¶ 10, 16). On April 27, 2017, ABS followed up this inquiry by sending Plaintiff a “Letter of Interest, ” seeking legal assistance for “establishing relationships with the USA and U.S. financial institutes” and “completing the removal of [US] sanctions.” Id. at 6 (Compl. ¶ 18) (alteration in original).

         On May 5, 2017, ABS and Plaintiff “executed a Retainer Agreement.” Id. at 7 (Compl. ¶ 19). Although Plaintiff did not attach the retainer agreement to the complaint, the institutional defendants submitted the agreement as an attachment to their motion to dismiss, see Dkt. 12-2 (Attachment A).[1] The retainer agreement sets forth the following terms:

1. Counsel will provide the following services to ABS:
a. Serve as the attorney of record and provide legal services in connection with achieving the above state[d] goals for ABS.
b. Serve as legal Counsel in any meeting or negotiations between ABS and the United States Government or any of its departments and/or agencies.
c. Serve as legal Counsel in drafting any necessary agreements, accords, treaties or understandings between ABS and the United States Government or any of its departments and/or agencies.
d. Serve as legal counsel in any meeting or negotiations with U.S. financial institutions.
d. Serve as legal Counsel in negotiating, reviewing, drafting/editing of necessary contracts or agreements with U.S. financial institutions.
e. Serve as legal Counsel in any disputes between ABS and the United States Government or any of its departments and/or agencies.
f. Serve as legal Counsel in in any disputes between ABS and U.S. financial institutions and entities.

Id. at 3 (Attachment A). The agreement also includes the following provision regarding the “computation of fees” and their payment:

3. In consideration for the services rendered and to be rendered on ABS's behalf by Counsel, the ABS hereby agrees to pay a lump sum agreed upon fee. . . .
4. Counsel will require a retainer of $200, 000 USD. The retainer fee will be due immediately to Counsel upon the execution of the “Retainer Agreement” in the manner provided for in attached Appendix A to this Agreement.

Id. at 5 (Attachment A). Each page of the retainer agreement bears the stamp of the General Manager of ABS, and the final page is signed by Mr. Ahmed. See ...


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