Foley Hoag Secures Victory for Brazil in U.S. Courts

May 21, 2021

Successfully Protects Brazil’s Sovereign State Immunity

On May 6, 2021, Foley Hoag LLP obtained an important victory for its clients the Federative Republic of Brazil and the State of Rio de Janeiro, by securing the early dismissal of a case under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the motion to dismiss brought by Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in Lambros v. Federative Republic of Brazil, et al. (No. 19-cv-1929 [TSC]).

The case was brought by John Gregory Lambros, a prolific pro se litigator and former resident of Brazil, who asserted a litany of claims stemming from his extradition from Brazil to the United States to face multiple counts of drug trafficking. Brazil and the State of Rio de Janeiro moved to dismiss the case, arguing that none of the three exceptions to their sovereign immunity on which Mr. Lambros relied – the waiver exception, the commercial activity exception, and the tort exception – applied to Mr. Lambros’ claims.

The Court, in an opinion by Judge Chutkan, rejected Mr. Lambros’ arguments that these exceptions applied to his claims. The Court held that the waiver exception did not apply because Mr. Lambros failed to identify any agreement entered into by Brazil that mentioned immunity. Likewise, the commercial activity exception was not applicable because Mr. Lambros’ claims were principally based on his extradition from Brazil – a quintessentially sovereign, not commercial, act. Finally, Mr. Lambros could not rely on the tort exception because his claims were based on conduct that allegedly took place in Brazil, not the United States.

Foley Hoag partners Clara Brillembourg and Andrew Lowenstein led the team defending Brazil and the State of Rio de Janeiro, with the assistance of associates Nicholas Renzler, Chris Modlish and Natalie Panariello.