United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
DR. TED ISEGHOHI EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO
Dennis Saylor, United States District Judge
an action to enforce a judgment of the Federal High Court of
Nigeria. Plaintiff Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards seeks $318
million in contingency fees that he contends were awarded by
the Federal High Court for representing local Nigerian
governments in a suit against the federal government of
Nigeria. Defendants, a group of eleven Nigerian government
entities and officials, have filed two motions to dismiss the
complaint. For the following reasons, both motions to dismiss
will be granted.
facts are set forth as alleged in the complaint.
to the complaint, on June 11, 2013, a consultancy company and
235 local Nigerian governments filed an action in the Federal
High Court of Nigeria to recover money allegedly owed to them
by the federal government of Nigeria. (Pl. Ex.
Edwards alleges that he provided legal consultation to the
local governments in that suit. (Pl. Ex. 3). On December 13,
2013, the Federal High Court issued a judgment in favor of
the company and local governments for approximately $3.18
billion. (Pl. Ex. 2).
4, 2015, Edwards filed an action in the Federal High Court
against the Incorporated Trustees of Association of Local
Governments of Nigeria. (Pl. Ex. 3). Edwards sought to
recover a ten percent “contingency fee” he
contended he was owed for the legal work he had performed for
the local governments as part of their 2013 case.
(Id.). On October 30, 2015, the Federal High Court
issued Edwards a judgment for approximately $3.18 million.
(Id.). The judgment also provided that Edwards was
“entitled to be paid . . . 10% of any recovery made and
or of proceeds from any source whatsoever of the 
November 18, 2015, Edwards brought an action seeking to
recover the ten percent ($3.18 million) from the Central Bank
of Nigeria. (Pl. Ex. 6). On October 3, 2016, the Federal High
Court issued an order directing the Central Bank of Nigeria
to pay Edwards that amount. (Id.).
October 28, 2016, Edwards filed an action in the Federal High
Court against the Central Bank of Nigeria, the federal
government of Nigeria, and nine entities and officials of the
federal government. (Pl. Ex. 1). Among other things, the suit
sought (1) a declaration that, by virtue of the Federal High
Court's 2013 decision, the Central Bank of Nigeria was
not to “disburse any sum of money to anyone . . .
without first deducting and paying . . . $318 million . . .
to Edwards, ” and (2) “[a]n [o]rder directing the
Central Bank of Nigeria to deduct and pay . . . $318 million
to Edwards” pursuant to the Federal High Court's
2016 decision. (Id.).
February 16, 2018, the Federal High Court issued an order
granting all the relief requested, except as to one
defendant, the Economic and Financial Crimes Division, which
it held had not been notified of the action. (Pl. Ex. 1a).
April 17, 2018, Edwards attempted to register the Federal
High Court's February 2018 judgment with this Court.
(Registration of Foreign Judgment, Dr. Ted
Iseghohi-Edwards v. Fed. Gov't of Nigeria, No.
18-mc-91146-FDS (D. Mass. Apr. 17, 2018)). Because Edwards
did not serve any of the defendants, the case was dismissed
30, 2018, Edwards filed a civil action against the alleged
judgment debtors seeks to have the Nigerian judgment
recognized by a court in the United States. Instead of
serving the defendants, however, Edwards filed a motion for
service by the clerk and a motion for summary judgment. The
Court denied both motions on June 4, 2018. Edwards then
served the eleven defendants on June 7 and June 8.
August 30, 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria filed a motion
to dismiss the complaint. The other ten defendants filed a
motion to dismiss on September 28, 2018. The two motions will
be considered together.
FSIA Immunity Generally
defendants contend that they are entitled to immunity under
the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), 28
U.S.C. §§ 1602, et seq.
FSIA is “the sole basis for obtaining jurisdiction over
a foreign state in [United States] courts.”
Argentine Republic v. Amerada Hess Shipping Corp.,
488 U.S. 428, 434 (1989). “Under the FSIA, a foreign
state is presumptively immune from the jurisdiction of the
United States Courts; unless a specified exception applies, a
federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a claim
against a foreign state.” Saudi Arabia ...