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Hill v. Potter

October 29, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dolly M. Gee United States District Judge


This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction filed by John E. Potter ("Potter"), in his official capacity as Postmaster General, and the U.S. Postal Service ("Postal Service" and together with Potter, "Defendants") [Doc. # 57], originally set for hearing on September 13, 2010. The Court took the matter under submission on September 9, 2010 because it deemed this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b); C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.


Plaintiff filed a Complaint on November 3, 2006 and a First Amended Complaint on November 16, 2006. Plaintiff alleges the following claims: (1) breach of oral contract; (2) breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) quantum meruit; (4) unjust enrichment; (5) fraud and deceit; (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (7) negligence.

On October 5, 2007, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. # 17.] On November 5, 2007, the Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge, granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, thereby dismissing Plaintiff's tort-based causes of action, and transferred Plaintiff's remaining contract-based causes of action to the Court of Federal Claims (the "November 5 Order"). [Doc. # 30.] On November 15, 2007, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal to the Ninth Circuit. [Doc. # 31.] On October 9, 2009, the Ninth Circuit vacated the November 5 Order and remanded the case for further proceedings. [Doc. # 40.]

On January 21, 2010, this case was transferred to this Court's calendar for all further proceedings. [Doc. # 47.]

On August 11, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. [Doc. # 57.] On August 24, 2010, Plaintiff late-filed an Opposition. [Doc. # 58.] On August 30, 2010, Defendants filed their Reply. [Doc. # 59.]

On September 30, 2010, the Court ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs as to whether certain material documents were collectively bargained (the "September 30 Order"). [Doc. # 81.] On October 8, 2010, Defendants filed a supplemental brief in response to the September 30 Order, and on October 11, 2010, Plaintiff late-filed her supplemental brief in response to the same. On October 15, 2010, Defendants filed a response to Plaintiff's supplemental brief.


Plaintiff is an employee of the Postal Service. (Pl.'s Statement of Genuine Issues of Material Fact ("Pl.'s Issues") ¶ 1.) Plaintiff contends that as part of its published policies and procedures, the Postal Service encouraged employees to present ideas that would assist the Postal Service in running more efficiently. (Pl.'s Issues ¶ 5; 1st Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18, 19.) Pursuant to the policies and procedures, if the employees' ideas were accepted and implemented, the employees would be compensated. (Id.)

In or about 1989, Plaintiff submitted an idea (the "Idea") to the Postal Service regarding single/double bundle handling of mail. (Pl.'s Issues ¶5; 1st Am. Compl. ¶¶ 20, 38.) Plaintiff gave the Idea to Donald Barnett, the Shop Steward and Union President, for submission to the Postal Service. (1st Am. Compl. ¶¶ 21, 39.) Mr. Barnett then presented the idea to Henry Young of the Postal Service's Operation Program and to Michael Edding, the manager of the Lugo Station. (1st Am. Compl. ¶¶ 22, 40.) Plaintiff contends that her Idea was accepted and implemented, but that she has never been compensated for its use and that the Postal Service has therefore breached its oral contract with Plaintiff. (Pl.'s Issues ¶ 7.) In 2005, Plaintiff submitted an administrative claim for $10,000,000 pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). (1st Am. Comp. ¶ 6, Ex. 1.)

According to Defendants, in 1989, Plaintiff was a member of the union known as the National Association of Letter Carriers, and subject to the national collective bargaining agreement (the "National Agreement") between her union and the Postal Service, when she submitted the Idea to the Postal Service. (Declaration of Michael W. Thomas ("Thomas Decl.") ¶¶ 2-3.) Pursuant to Article 19 of the National Agreement, the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (the "ELM") is incorporated by reference into the National Agreement (Thomas Decl. ¶¶ 4-6) and the Employee Suggestion Program (the "ESP") is a component part of the ELM (Declaration of Cullen S. Keily ("Keily Decl.") ¶¶ 3, 4, Ex. A; Thomas Decl. ¶ 7).*fn1 Handbook EL-601 provides guidance to administrators of the ESP. (Keily Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. B.)


A. Legal Standards Governing a Rule 12(b)(1) ...

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