Angellino v. Royal Family Al-Saud, et al., No. 11-7043 (D.C. Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed a breach of contract action seeking over $12 million from the Royal Family Al-Saud and sixteen of its members (collectively, defendants) for failing to pay him for artwork he alleged they commissioned. Plaintiff had designed 29 sculptures for the Royal Family in 2006 and 2007. Defendants kept the sculptures but never paid plaintiff for any of them. Plaintiff attempted to serve process on defendants by mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, where plaintiff ordinarily communicated with defendants in past instances, but the Embassy refused to accept the first class mailing. The district court dismissed the pro se complaint for failure to prosecute under Local Civil Rule 83.23 because plaintiff failed to serve process on defendants pursuant to FRCP 4(f). The court held that, viewing all of the circumstances - the reasonable probability that plaintiff could obtain service on at least one of the defendants, plaintiff's dogged attempts to effect service of process and the district court's failure to provide "a form of notice sufficiently understandable to one in [plaintiff's] circumstances fairly to apprise him of what is required" to serve process, and to provide notice of the consequences of failing to serve process - the district court abused its discretion in dismissing the complaint. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on July 25, 2012.