Hood v. United States Postal Service et al
OPINION; signed by Judge Gordon J. Quist (Judge Gordon J. Quist, jmt)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JULIAN R. HOOD, JR.,
HON. GORDON J. QUIST
Case Nos. 1:15-CV-434;
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE,
The 2014 Lawsuits
In 2014, Plaintiff, Julian R. Hood, Jr., a former employee of the United States Postal Service,
proceeding pro se, filed a series of lawsuits with this Court against the USPS and the Postmaster
General alleging various claims, all of which arose out of Hood’s employment with the USPS,
which terminated on in April of 2004. Instead of bringing all of his claims in one action, Hood
essentially brought them in separate complaints. In Case Nos. 1:14-CV-1104 and 1183, Hood
alleged claims for violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In Case Nos. 1:14-CV-1180 and
1181, Hood alleged claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Case No. 1:14-CV-1182, Hood alleged a
claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and in Case No. 1:14-CV-1195, Hood alleged a claim under Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Defendant moved to dismiss all of Hood’s claims on the ground that they were barred by a
settlement agreement between Hood and the USPS, executed on November 18, 2005; Hood failed
to exhaust his administrative remedies; and all of Hood’s claims were barred by the applicable
statutes of limitations. Hood filed a response to the motion. On July 10, 2015, the Court entered
an Opinion and Order granting Defendant’s motions. (See Hood v. Brennan, No. 1:14-CV-1104
(ECF No. 25).) First, the Court concluded that Hood’s claims were barred by the settlement
agreement. (Id. at PageID.129–30.) Second, the Court held that, to the extent his claims were
subject to an exhaustion requirement, Hood failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before
filing suit. (Id. at PageID.130–31.) Finally, the Court rejected Hood’s argument that he was entitled
to equitable tolling. (Id. at PageID.131–32.)
On July 20, 2015, Hood filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that he was not afforded
an opportunity to address various issues, including the reasons why he failed to timely file his
claims. (Id. ECF No. 27.) On July 28, 2015, the Court entered an Order denying Hood’s motion
for reconsideration. (Id. ECF No. 29.) In the July 28, 2015 Order, the Court concluded that Hood
“had ample opportunity to address the statute of limitations, the settlement agreement, and his
failure to exhaust certain claims.” (Id. at PageID.173–74.) With regard to his equitable tolling
arguments, the Court stated:
Plaintiff devotes a substantial number of pages to explaining how his various mental
health conditions and impairments affected his ability to timely pursue his claims
and/or seek relief from the Settlement Agreement, which show that Plaintiff was
capable of asserting his rights. For example, in spite of his claim of lack of capacity
to understand the Settlement Agreement or to file a timely complaint, Plaintiff was
able to pursue his claim with the Office of Workers’ Compensation, he was able to
obtain disability retirement benefits under the Federal Employees Retirement
System, and he was able to file an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board.
These facts are inconsistent with Plaintiff’s assertion that he was unable to diligently
pursue his claims.
(Id. at PageID.174.)
The Instant Lawsuits
On April 24, 2015, Hood filed three more lawsuits, all of which related to Hood’s long-ago
terminated employment with the USPS. In Case No. 1:15-CV-434, Hood sued the USPS and the
Postmaster General alleging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. In Case No.
1:15-CV-435, Hood sued the USPS and two Postal unions under Section 301(a) of the Labor
Management Relations Act of 1957, alleging that the USPS violated provisions of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement and the unions breached their duty of fair representation. Finally, in 1:15CV-436, Hood sued the USPS, the Postmaster General, an attorney for the USPS, the previouslymentioned unions, and the attorney and law firm that represented him in his employment disputes
with the USPS, alleging various federal and state-law claims. The Court reviewed the complaints
in these cases, and on May 15 and May 28, 2015, entered Opinions, Orders, and Judgments
dismissing the cases as barred by the applicable statutes of limitations.
Hood appealed all three Judgments to the Sixth Circuit. On June 28 and June 29, 2016, the
Sixth Circuit entered orders in Hood’s appeals vacating this Court’s judgments and remanding the
cases for further proceedings. (Case No. 1:15-CV-434, ECF No. 14; Case No. 1:15-CV435, ECF
no. 14; Case No. 1:15-CV-436, ECF No. 13.) The Sixth Circuit said that before dismissing Hood’s
complaints, the Court should have afforded Hood an opportunity to argue that the limitations periods
were tolled by the USPS’s and other Defendants’ concealment of facts and other misconduct, as well
as by Hood’s alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
Screening on Remand
At the time the Sixth Circuit issued its orders in these cases vacating this Court’s judgments,
this Court had already considered Hood’s equitable tolling arguments in the 2014 cases, although
it appears that the Sixth Circuit was not aware of this fact. In any event, Hood has had an
opportunity to present his equitable tolling arguments on remand by way of his amended complaints
in these cases. (See, e.g., Case No. 1:15-CV-436, ECF No. 14-1 at PageID.171–75.)
As in the 2014 cases, Hood has not shown any basis for equitable tolling. As indicated, all
of Hood’s claims in these cases, including those he seeks to assert in his amended complaints,
pertain to his employment with the USPS. In both its July 10, 2015 Opinion and in its July 28, 2015
Order Denying Motion for Reconsideration in Case No. 1:14-CV-1104, the Court explained why
Hood was not entitled to equitable tolling. The case for denying equitable tolling is even stronger
in the three instant cases because Hood filed the 2014 lawsuits in October 2014, demonstrating an
ability and mental capacity to pursue his claims. See Truitt v. Cnty. of Wayne, 148 F.3d 644, 648
(6th Cir. 1998) (setting forth five factors a court should consider for equitable tolling).1 The fact that
Hood was actively filing numerous lawsuits six months before he filed the instant three lawsuits is
particularly fatal to Hood’s equitable tolling argument.2
Thus, Hood’s claims in these cases are
all barred by the applicable statutes of limitations, and Hood is not entitled to the benefit of equitable
Moreover, Hood’s claims in these cases against the USPS and the Postmaster General are
barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion based upon the 2014 cases. See, e.g., Young v. Township
of Green Oak, 471 F.3d 674, 680–81 (6th Cir. 2006). Hood could have raised his claims against the
USPS and the Postmaster General in any of the six 2014 lawsuits, but failed to do so.
The Court finds it unnecessary to analyze each of the five factors because the factors (1) diligence in pursuing
one’s rights; (2) absence of prejudice to the defendant; and (3) the plaintiff’s reasonableness in remaining ignorant of
the particular legal requirement, weigh heavily against equitable tolling.
Hood’s argument that he was unaware of his claims and that “Defendants concealed the existence of [his]
claims through intentional misrepresentation and omissions” is undermined by Hood’s own admissions in his amended
complaint in Case No. 1:15-CV-436. ( ECF No. 14-1 at PageID.173.) For example, Hood alleges that “I did not know
that malpractice had been committed upon me until, the US MSPB Judge Honorable Nina Puglia, stated that I should
have not signed that agreement, which occurred on March 7, 2013.” (Id. at PageID.158.) Moreover, Hood’s allegations
of intentional misrepresentation and omissions are nothing more than conclusory statements unsupported by any facts
showing that any Defendant concealed some fact that rendered Hood unable to discover the basis of his claims. Finally,
even if Defendants concealed any conduct from Hood, Hood failed to exercise due diligence in discovering his causes
of action. Huntsman v. Perry Local Sch. Bd. of Educ., 379 F. App’x 456, 461 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Pinney Dock &
Transp. Co. v. Penn Cent. Corp., 838 F.2d 1445, 1465 (6th Cir. 1988)).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss these cases with prejudice.
A separate judgment will enter.
Dated: December 21, 2016
/s/ Gordon J. Quist
GORDON J. QUIST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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