Barot v. Embassy of the Republic of the Zambia, No. 13-cv-00451, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50724 (D.D.C. Apr. 11, 2014) [click for opinion]

Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, the Embassy of Zambia, alleging age discrimination and violations of wage payment and collection law. The district court dismissed the action for Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the strict service requirements of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”). 28 U.S.C. § 1608. Plaintiff moved for reconsideration, arguing the court made a factual error regarding the waybill for the service package.

The FSIA requires a plaintiff to address a service package to “the head of the ministry of foreign affairs” of the foreign state. Here, the waybill on Plaintiff’s service package was addressed to: “Embassy of Zambia,” and contained a notation that read: “Contact: Min. Foreign Affairs.” The court held that because the waybill was not properly addressed to the “head of the ministry of foreign affairs,” it did not strictly comply with FSIA’s service requirements. Moreover, Plaintiff’s evidence showed that the notation “Min. Foreign Affairs” was meant to be an abbreviation for “Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” not “Minister of Foreign Affairs.” The FSIA requires that the service package be specifically addressed to the minister, not the ministry in general. The court noted that, although it “would be inclined to overlook such a technical error,” it was bound by the strict mandates of the statute. As such, even Plaintiff’s evidence that Defendant received actual notice was not enough to establish proper service under the FSIA. The court therefore denied Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration.