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Russian national’s lawsuit against ICE and security firm operator dismissed without prejudice

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FOR lack of jurisdiction, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has dismissed without prejudice the lawsuit of Denis Uvarov against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Gani Osman, operator of Saipan Security Service.

Judge Manglona also denied his request in both lawsuits to proceed without paying fees and costs to file his claims.

Dismissed without prejudice means the lawsuit can be refiled.

Uvarov sued ICE, alleging personal injury. He demanded $80,000 in damages and the return of his passport.

A citizen of the Russian Federation, Uvarov arrived on Saipan as a tourist on Nov. 29, 2017 and  applied for political asylum at the local ICE office.

Uvarov, who represented himself  in the lawsuit, said he no longer wants to pursue his asylum application.

He said on June 7, 2018, ICE confiscated his passport and “never [made] any effort in good faith [to] organize asylum interview.”

“When I needed to go home ICE was not able to return my passport,” Uvarov said as he accused ICE of violating the 1967 international protocol on refugee rights.

He said this has caused him “mental harm, depression, and deprivation.”

ICE, he added, “is limiting my movement, making my travel outside [the] CNMI impossible.” 

In her three-page order issued on Monday, Judge Manglona said the court lacks jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claim because Uvarov failed to exhaust administrative remedies.

The judge added that the U.S. and its agencies enjoy sovereign immunity and can only be sued in court to the extent that the U.S. Congress has waived that immunity.

“Plaintiff requested the return of his passport in July 2020. The emails from the Los Angeles asylum office indicate that they are processing his request,” the judge said. “Plaintiff has not presented evidence of any final agency decision. Therefore, because he has not yet exhausted his administrative remedies, his complaint is premature.”

Judge Manglona then directed the court clerk to close the case.

Labor claims

As for Uvarov’s labor claims against Gani Osman, Judge Manglona said the case must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The plaintiff’s complaint alleges that he is owed in total $80,399  “plus medical bills.”

Specifically, Uvarov said he is owed $1,399 in unpaid wages for 166 hours of work performed over 14 days; $50,000 for “moral damage, suffering and harm to health” caused by the defendant’s failure to pay him and follow labor laws, thereby leaving the plaintiff penniless; and $29,000 in lost profits for 100 weeks of work that could have been performed since the defendant never formally dismissed Uvarov after those approximately two weeks of work, for a total of $80,399 in damages.

“But even if the court accepts as true that plaintiff is owed $1,399 in unpaid wages and $50,000 for pain and suffering, plaintiff’s claim for lost profits fails as a matter of law given the nature of his at-will employment,” Judge Manglona said.

To the extent that Uvarov requests “punitive damages” or “medical bills” without alleging any amount or factual support, “the court cannot consider those towards meeting the amount in controversy threshold.”

But Judge Manglona also allowed Uvarov to amend the complaint 14 days after the issued order.

“If plaintiff seeks to refile his claim to sufficiently establish that the amount in controversy is met, he must file it with all relevant documents, including the complaint form and supporting attachments. Failure to file a second amended complaint within 14 days of this order will result in the closure of this case,” the judge added.

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