Raji v. The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Benin
ORDER and REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION re 2 Complaint filed by Olalekan Sheriff Raji. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1 ) is GRANTED. It is also RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3). Objections to R&R due by 12/1/2021. Signed by Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura on 11/17/2021. (daf)(This document has been sent by regular mail to the party(ies) listed in the NEF that did not receive electronic notification.)
Case: 2:21-cv-05227-SDM-CMV Doc #: 3 Filed: 11/17/21 Page: 1 of 4 PAGEID #: 172
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
OLALEKAN SHERIFF RAJI,
Civil Action 2:21-cv-5227
Judge Sarah D. Morrison
Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura
THE EMBASSY OF THE FEDERAL
REPUBLIC OF BENIN,
ORDER and REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff, Olalekan Sheriff Raji, an Ohio resident proceeding without the assistance of
counsel, has submitted a request to file a civil action in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1.) The Court
GRANTS Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis. All judicial officers who render
services in this action shall do so as if the costs had been prepaid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). This
matter is also before the Court for the initial screen of Plaintiff’s Complaint as required by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to identify cognizable claims and to recommend dismissal of Plaintiff’s
Complaint, or any portion of it, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Having performed the initial screen, for the reasons that follow,
it is RECOMMENDED that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff’s action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2) for failure to assert any claim over which this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction.
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STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the federal in forma pauperis statute, Courts must sua sponte
dismiss an action upon determining that an in forma pauperis complaint fails to state a claim on
which relief can be granted. Thus, a typical initial screen involves consideration of the merits of
the claims asserted. In this case, however, upon review of Plaintiff’s Complaint, the undersigned
determines that it is unnecessary to consider the merits of the claims he advances because this
Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to hear such claims. When the face of the complaint
provides no basis for federal jurisdiction, the Court may dismiss an action as frivolous and for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(h)(3). Williams v. Cincy Urban Apts., No. 1:10-cv-153, 2010 WL 883846, at
*2 n.1 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 9, 2010) (citing Carlock v. Williams, 182 F.3d 916, 1999 WL 454880, at
*2 (6th Cir. June 22, 1999) (table)).
Plaintiff’s Complaint seeks an order “to summon The Embassy [of the] Federal Republic
of Benin at 2124 Kalorama Road, NW Washington, D.C. 20008 as an institutional representative
of the government of the Federal Republic of Benin for unlawful detention of the Yoruba Nation
activist, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo Igboho . . . .” (Compl. 1, ECF No. 1-1.) Thus, Plaintiff’s claims
are, in substance, against the government of Benin—a foreign state.
Suits against foreign states are governed by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28
U.S.C. § 1062, et seq. (the “FSIA”), which is “the sole basis for obtaining jurisdiction over a
foreign state in our courts.” Argentine Republic v. Amerada Hess Shipping Corp., 488 U.S. 428,
434 (1989). “Under the FSIA, a foreign state is presumptively immune from suit unless a
specific exception applies.” Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations v. City of New
York, 551 U.S. 193, 197 (2007) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1604 and Saudi Arabia v. Nelson, 507 U.S.
Case: 2:21-cv-05227-SDM-CMV Doc #: 3 Filed: 11/17/21 Page: 3 of 4 PAGEID #: 174
349, 355 (1993)); see also Republic of Austria v. Altmann, 541 U.S. 677, 691 (2004) (“‘At the
threshold of every action in a district court against a foreign state, . . . the court must satisfy itself
that one of the exceptions applies,’ as ‘subject-matter jurisdiction in any such action depends’ on
that application.”) (quoting Verlinden B.V. v. Central Bank of Nigeria, 461 U.S. 480, 486
Plaintiff’s Complaint does not contain factual allegations on which the undersigned could
rely to conclude that an exception applies to the FSIA’s grant of immunity. Plaintiff seeks an
order compelling Benin to answer for its allegedly improper detention of a political prisoner.
The alleged improper conduct is thus governmental in nature and falls outside any of the FSIA’s
exceptions to sovereign immunity. See Nelson, 507 U.S. at 361 (Saudi Arabia immune under the
FSIA from claims arising out of plaintiff’s wrongful arrest, imprisonment, and torture, because
the alleged conduct “boils down to abuse of the power of its police by the Saudi Government,
and however monstrous such abuse undoubtedly may be, a foreign state’s exercise of the power
of its police has long been understood . . . as peculiarly sovereign in nature”); see also Glob.
Tech., Inc. v. Yubei (XinXiang) Power Steering Sys. Co., 807 F.3d 806, 812 (6th Cir. 2015) (“[A]
foreign nation ‘is immune from the jurisdiction of foreign courts as to its sovereign or public acts
(jure imperii), but not as to those that are private or commercial in character (jure gestionis).’”)
(quoting Nelson, 507 U.S. at 359–60).
In sum, because Benin is presumptively immune from suit in the United States under the
FSIA, and because Plaintiff’s allegations do not support the application of any exception to the
FSIA’s grant of immunity, it is RECOMMENDED that the Court DISMISS this action for
failure to assert any claim over which this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction.
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Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1) is GRANTED.
For the foregoing reasons, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff’s claims be DISMISSED
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3).
PROCEDURE ON OBJECTIONS
If any party objects to this Report and Recommendation, that party may, within fourteen
(14) days of the date of this Report, file and serve on all parties written objections to those specific
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made, together with supporting
authority for the objection(s). A Judge of this Court shall make a de novo determination of those
portions of the Report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made. Upon proper objections, a Judge of this Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the findings or recommendations made herein, may receive further evidence or may recommit
this matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
The parties are specifically advised that failure to object to the Report and
Recommendation will result in a waiver of the right to have the District Judge review the Report
and Recommendation de novo, and also operates as a waiver of the right to appeal the decision of
the District Court adopting the Report and Recommendation. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140
(1985); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Chelsey M. Vascura
CHELSEY M. VASCURA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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