471 U.S. 1022 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

COOPER v. U.S. POSTAL SERVICE , 471 U.S. 1022 (1985)

471 U.S. 1022

No. 84-600

Supreme Court of the United States

April 15, 1985

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice WHITE, dissenting.

Page 471 U.S. 1022 , 1023

In The Regional Postmaster General denied the complaint, notifying petitioner that she could appeal to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 20 days, or file suit in federal district court within 30. See 42 U.S.C. 2000e-16(c). Choosing the latter route, petitioner filed this suit on October 29, 1982, the day before the 30-day limit expired. She did not serve copies of the complaint on the United States Attorney or the Attorney General until January 1983, and did not serve the Postmaster General until February. The record does not indicate when or if the Postal Service, which was the named defendant, was served, but it was not within the 30-day period.

The District Court dismissed the complaint because it did not name the proper defendant, who was the Postmaster General. 2000e-16(c). Petitioner sought to correct this defect and have the amendment relate back to the date of the initial complaint. See Fed. Rule Civ.Proc. 15(c). 1 The District Court denied the motion on the ground that the Postmaster General had not had notice of the suit within the 30-day period.

On appeal, a panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed that the Postmaster General was the only proper defendant and that the 30-day period was a flat-parenthetically, a jurisdictional-requirement. 740 F.2d 714, 716 ( 1984). Therefore, petitioner's action was necessarily time-barred unless the amendment could relate back to the date of the original complaint. Observing that "[t]here is no unanimity among the circuits concerning the proper interpretation of rule 15(c)'s notice provision," ibid. the court adopted a strict, literal reading and affirmed. [471 U.S. 1022 , 1024]

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