A federal judge in Washington, D.C. on Monday awarded Lanny Davis's lobbying and crisis management firm nearly $160,000 for unpaid expenses incurred while working for the government of Equatorial Guinea. U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras granted a motion for default judgment against the West African nation with this 18-page decision finding that Lanny J. Davis & Associates was entitled to $141,941.11 plus pre- and post-judgment interest for breach of contract.
Davis picked up the nearly $2 million assignment to help Equatorial Guinea with political, legal, and economic reforms in February 2010 while he was still at McDermott Will & Emery, but he took the work with him when he launched his own firm Lanny J. Davis & Associates in April 2010. As The American Lawyer pointed out in this November 2010 profile of Davis, Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo's government has been widely criticized for human rights abuses that include unlawful killings by security forces, and government-sanctioned kidnappings and torture. Davis considered himself the government's "reform counsel" and worked to improve the country's relationship with the U.S.
However, the parties agreed to terminate their engagement agreement in February 2011 as Equatorial Guinea was late making payments. The next month Lanny J. Davis associates sent a table of out-of-pocket expenses to Equatorial Guinea and following multiple attempts to get the country to pay the bills, the firm filed suit in October 2011.
Equatorial Guinea has not made an appearance in defense in the lawsuit. In October 2012, Davis's attorney Mark Zaid, with the Law Office of Mark S. Zaid, P.C., moved for a default judgment. Monday's ruling by Judge Contreras granted that motion in-part, and invited the lobbying firm to seek costs and attorneys fees associated with the lawsuit.
Zaid passed along the following statement via e-mail: "We intend to aggressively enforce the judgment, which pertains only to the reimbursement of expenses, against Equatorial Guinea's assets throughout the United States. Foreign Sovereigns who do business in our country must understand they are subject to the same laws and obligations as everyone else."
Zaid added that Equatorial Guinea's breach of contract was particularly unfortunate since Davis's services were designed to help reform "a country that desperately needs the rule of law, democracy, an independent judiciary, and a free press."