Foley Hoag Obtains Victory for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nine Other Government Defendants in Federal Case Seeking Over $657 Million

U.S. District Court Judge Dismisses Lawsuit on Ground of Sovereign Immunity

December 20, 2018

On Tuesday, December 18, 2018 a U.S. District Court judge in Massachusetts granted the motion to dismiss filed by Foley Hoag on behalf of its clients, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and nine other Nigerian state entities and officials, in a case seeking over $657 million. The failed suit was brought by attorney Ted Iseghohi Edwards, who was seeking to collect over $318 million in attorneys’ fees, plus over $339 million in interest and collection fees, that he alleged were owed to him and other lawyers based on a 2013 Nigerian court judgement. 

On behalf of its clients, Foley Hoag moved to dismiss the complaint on multiple grounds, including on the basis that Nigeria and its entities and public officials enjoy sovereign immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The Court concluded that “all defendants constitute a ‘foreign state’ within the meaning of the FSIA” (Memorandum and Order on Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss, p. 6) and that no exceptions to the immunity-granting statute were applicable. Accordingly, the court dismissed the case as to all defendants.  

“This decision is a well-deserved victory for Nigeria. There is simply no basis for U.S. courts to hear the claim,” said Foley Hoag partner Tafadzwa Pasipanodya, a member of the team that defended Nigeria’s federal government and other agencies.

In addition to Pasipanodya, Foley Hoag’s representation of Nigeria included attorneys Andrew Loewenstein, Arsalan Suleman and Tracy Roosevelt, and paralegal Judith Gallant

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