Case of the Day: Iskandar v. Embassy of Kuwait

The case of the day is Iskandar v. Embassy of the State of Kuwait (D.D.C. 2015). Randa Iskandar was a claims processor in the health office of the Kuwaiti embassy. She alleged that her supervisor had sexually abused her and retaliated against her after she complained. She sued the embassy. She served the summons and complaint on the First Secretary of the embassy. The embassy didn’t answer, and Iskandar moved for entry of default. The embassy then moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process and for want of subject matter jurisdiction.

The service obviously failed to comply with the FSIA. Iskandar conceded the point but sought to avoid dismissal, noting that she could simply re-serve the complaint. The judge rejected her argument and dismissed the case without prejudice, noting that in addition to failing to serve process properly, Iskandar had also failed to allege subject matter jurisdiction properly in the complaint (the complaint only asserted federal question and diversity jurisdiction, but the only source of subject-matter jurisdiction against a foreign state is the FSIA). The judge noted more than once that Iskandar was represented by counsel, and the subtext of the decision is that while a plaintiff acting pro se may expect some leniency, lawyers need to educate themselves about the FSIA and at least try to comply with it.

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