Thompson v. United States Postal Service
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff shall show cause no later than October 7, 2014, why this action should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Signed by District Judge Rodney W. Sippel on 9/23/14. (JWD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE,
No. 4:14CV1145 RWS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before me on review of plaintiff’s complaint. Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure requires the Court to review all civil cases for subject matter
jurisdiction and, if jurisdiction is lacking, to dismiss. It appears that jurisdiction is lacking in this
Plaintiff sues the United States Postal Service (“Postal Service”) for breach of contract.
Plaintiff alleges that she pre-paid for a post office box for six months. She claims that when she
arrived three months later to collect her mail, post office workers had closed her box and also
denied her access to her mail. Plaintiff says she demanded a full refund but was refused.
Plaintiff seeks the amount of the full refund, $85, plus $400 in punitive damages.
Title 28 U.S.C. § 1339 gives the United States district courts with original jurisdiction
over any civil action arising under the Act of Congress relating to the postal service. However,
§ 1339 does not confer jurisdiction over breach of contract suits against the postal service. See
Prefab Products, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Svc., 600 F. Supp. 89, 90 (D.C. Fla. 1984) (“Because an Act
of Congress does not form an essential element of the contract claim here, this Court does not
have jurisdiction under Section 1339.”).
Title 39 U.S.C. § 409 also gives the district courts jurisdiction over suits against the
Postal Service in some circumstances.
However, the waiver of sovereign immunity in
§ 409(e)(1) does not extend to common law suits: “the Postal Service . . . shall not be immune
under any doctrine of sovereign immunity from suit in Federal court by any person for any
violation of Federal law by such agency or any officer or employee thereof.” So, jurisdiction is
not found under § 409. See Prefab Products, 600 F. Supp. at 91.
Certain contract disputes with the Postal Services come under the Contracts Dispute Act
of 1978, 41 U.S.C. § 7101, et seq. However, the district courts do not have jurisdiction over
such disputes. 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2). As a result, I will order plaintiff to show cause why this
action should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff shall show cause no later than October 7,
2014, why this action should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Dated this 23rd day of September, 2014.
RODNEY W. SIPPEL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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