Kettey v. Saudi Ministry of Educ.

Decision Date27 June 2014
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 13–745 CKK
Citation53 F.Supp.3d 40
PartiesBillson Yaw Kettey, Plaintiff, v. Saudi Ministry of Education, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Billson Yaw Kettey, Bronx, NY, pro se.

Thomas J. Powell, Law Offices of Thomas J. Powell, P.C., Fairfax, VA, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR–KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, filed suit against the Saudi Ministry of Education, the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education, and Taif University of Saudi Arabia (collectively, Defendants), asserting breach of contract, quantum meruit, and fraud arising out of Plaintiff's employment as an English teacher at Taif University. Presently before the Court is Defendants' [8] Motion to Dismiss. Upon consideration of the pleadings,1 the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint must be dismissed for failure to serve Defendants. Moreover, the Court finds that Defendants are immune from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act as to Plaintiff's breach of contract and quantum meruit claims. Accordingly, those claims must be dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. While Defendants are not immune from Plaintiff's fraud claim, that claim must also be dismissed with prejudice because Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead fraud. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

For the purposes of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, the Court presumes the following facts pled in Plaintiff's Complaint to be true, as required when considering a motion to dismiss. See Atherton v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C.Cir.2009). On or about August 23, 2004, Billson Yaw Kettey (Plaintiff) was interviewed by Dr. Ahmed Mofareh, an employee of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education (MOE), in Washington, D.C. for a position teaching English in Saudi Arabia. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff alleges that, after the interview, Dr. Mofareh “made Plaintiff believe that he was being offered an offer for employment with all the entitlements and privileges that applied to American English instructors of the same qualifications as Master's degree holders contracted by the Saudi Ministry of Education.” Id. In other words, Plaintiff believed that he would receive a “country of origin” benefit and “that his salary would be fixed to the reasonable amount paid to Westerners in the same teaching position.” Id. ¶¶ 16, 29.

Following the interview, Plaintiff entered into a one-year contract dated August 23, 2004, for employment with the Teachers Colleges of the MOE in Saudi Arabia (the “Contract”). Id. ¶ 11, Ex. A (the Contract). Plaintiff does not allege in his Complaint where the Contract was signed, but the Court shall draw the reasonable inference that the Contract was signed in the United States since it was signed the same day as Plaintiff's interview in Washington, D.C. Under the Contract, Plaintiff was to be paid a 8,370 Saudi Rials (“S.R.”) salary plus an annual 17,000 S.R. housing stipend by the MOE, sixty days prepaid vacation, return air tickets to the United States for himself and his family, and various other benefits. Id. Ex. A (the Contract). In 2008, Plaintiff was transferred from Taif Teachers' College to the English Department of Taif University. Id. ¶ 13.

On May 22, 2013, Plaintiff filed suit against the MOE, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), and Taif University, alleging breach of contract, quantum meruit, and fraud.Id. ¶ 1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants breached the Contract by failing and refusing to pay him in full for labor, services, and materials he furnished while in Defendants' employ. Id. ¶ 21. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants refused to pay him $319,000 for his “country of origin benefit” and approximately $3,000 for twenty-eight hours over-time and his extra work supervising student-teachers for the 20082009 academic year. Id. ¶ 17. Second, Plaintiff alleges quantum meruit, claiming Defendants benefitted from his labor, but failed and refused to pay him for such benefits. Id. ¶¶ 25–26. Finally, Plaintiff alleges fraud, claiming that Defendants made written and oral statements regarding Plaintiff's salary with an intent to deceive Plaintiff “into believing that his salary would be fixed to the reasonable amount paid to Westerners in the same teaching position.” Id. ¶ 29.

On July 24, 2013, the Court issued an Order to Plaintiff advising Plaintiff that he was required to serve the MOE and the MOHE pursuant to the procedures set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a). Order (July 24, 2013), ECF No. [3]. The Court also indicated that Plaintiff was required to serve Taif University pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(b). Id. The Court ordered Plaintiff to submit the necessary documents to the Clerk of the Court for mailing by no later than August 23, 2013. Id. The Clerk of the Court mailed the documents provided by Plaintiff on August 20, 2013. See ECF No. [5]. On September 23, 2013, the Court ordered that by no later than October 15, 2013, Plaintiff must file proof of service with the Court, or request service of all Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(4), otherwise the case would be dismissed without prejudice for want of prosecution. Order (Sept. 23, 2013), ECF No. [6]. On October 4, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Affidavit of Service. ECF No. [7].

On October 25, 2013, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. Defendants contend that (1) the Court does not have jurisdiction over this matter because Defendants have not received service; (2) the Court does not have jurisdiction because Defendants are immune under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA); (3) Plaintiff's claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations; and (4) Plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. On December 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. As the time in which Defendants were entitled to file a Reply has now passed and no extension has been requested, Defendants' Motion is now ripe for review.

II. LEGAL STANDARD
A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

A court must dismiss a case when it lacks subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). In so doing, the Court may “consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.” Coal. for Underground Expansion v. Mineta, 333 F.3d 193, 198 (D.C.Cir.2003) (citations omitted). “At the motion to dismiss stage, counseled complaints, as well as pro se complaints, are to be construed with sufficient liberality to afford all possible inferences favorable to the pleader on allegations of fact.” Settles v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 429 F.3d 1098, 1106 (D.C.Cir.2005). In spite of the favorable inferences that a plaintiff receives on a motion to dismiss, it remains the plaintiff's burden to prove subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Am. Farm Bureau v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 121 F.Supp.2d 84, 90 (D.D.C.2000). Furthermore, a court need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if those inferences are not supported by the facts alleged in the complaint. Odhiambo v. Republic of Kenya, 930 F.Supp.2d 17, 22 (D.D.C.2013) (citing Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C.Cir.2002) ).

B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(4)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(4) provides that a Court may dismiss a case due to “insufficiency of process” if the plaintiff fails to establish that he or she has properly effected service upon the defendant(s) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4. Light v. Wolf, 816 F.2d 746, 751 (D.C.Cir.1987). “The 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.” Id. (quoting C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1083, at 334 (1969) ); see also Hilska v. Jones, 217 F.R.D. 16, 20 (D.D.C.2003) (holding that “the plaintiff carries the burden of establishing that he has properly effected service”) (citation omitted).

C. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’ Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957) ; accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (per curium). Although “detailed factual allegations” are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, to provide the “grounds” of “entitle[ment] to relief,” a plaintiff must furnish “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955. Instead, the complaint's [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (citations omitted).

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court must “construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept as true all reasonable factual inferences drawn from well-pleaded factual allegations.” In re United Mine Workers of Am. Empl. Benefit Plans Litig., 854 F.Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C.1994) ; see also Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C.Cir.1979) (“The complaint must be ‘liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff,’...

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