The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.
DENYING WITH PREJUDICE THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS;
DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion
to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. On
September 15, 1999, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC") issued its final decision dismissing the plaintiffs
claims of discrimination and retaliation. The plaintiff, Essie
J. Baker, now brings this action pursuant to the Americans With
Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq. The
defendant, William J. Henderson, named in his official capacity
as Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service ("the
defendant" or "Postal Service") moves to dismiss the case on the
ground that the plaintiff did not timely file her complaint. In
the alternative, the defendant moves for summary judgment.
After careful consideration of the complaint and the parties'
submissions, the court finds that, despite the plaintiffs
diligence, she was unable to meet the statutory deadline imposed
by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c) because of a mix-up by the court
clerk's office. Therefore, the court determines that equitable
tolling is appropriate, and the court will exercise its
equitable powers to toll the 90-day filing period so this action
may proceed. Accordingly, the court will deny with prejudice the
defendant's 12(b)(6) motion. In addition, the court will deny
without prejudice the defendant's motion for summary judgment.
The defendant may renew its summary-judgment motion at a later
On September 20, 1996, the plaintiff signed a contract with
her employer, the United States Postal Service, entitled
"Rehabilitation Job Offer." See Compl. at 1. That document
reflected the position of "Modified Carrier" at the time the
plaintiff signed it. See id. Thereafter, while the plaintiff
was recuperating from an on-the-job injury, she requested a copy
of the document from her employer. See id. At that time, the
plaintiff became aware that the contract had been tampered with,
and her job title had been "white-ed out." See id. The
contract, as modified, reflected a new job title, "Part Time
Flexible Employee" ("PTF"). See id. According to the
plaintiff, the change from "modified carrier" to "PTF" amounted
to a demotion that negatively affected her career status, leave
benefits, holidays, bid assignment and bidding rights. See id.
The defendant moves to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6) on the ground that the plaintiff
failed to timely file her complaint in the United States
District Court. See Mot. to Dis. at 1. The plaintiff counters
that she lodged her request to proceed in forma pauperis
("IFP") within the filing deadline, but that various mishaps in
the clerk's office prevented a timely filing. See Pl.'s Opp'n
at 1-2. The defendant concedes that the lodging of a request to
proceed IFP tolls the limitations period until the court rules
on the plaintiffs request. See Reply at 3; see also Mondy v.
Secretary of the Army, 845 F.2d 1051, 1057 (D.C.Cir. 1988).
According to the defendant's calculations, however, the
plaintiff either officially lodged her request for IFP too late
(i.e., on January 4, 2000) or neglected to file the complaint
within the time remaining after her request for IFP was denied.
See id. The plaintiff maintains that she lodged her request
for IFP within the limitations period but that the clerk lost
her file twice and neglected to notify her when the court denied
leave to proceed IFP. She claims that the clerk's mistakes led
to the late filing of the complaint. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 1.
Since the plaintiff and defendant do not agree about the date
on which the plaintiff lodged her IFP request, the court will
take judicial notice of the clerk's "Pro Se Log Report" to help
determine the key date.*fn1
B. Timeline of Relevant Events
On September 15, 1999, the EEOC issued its final agency
decision in this case and mailed a notice to the plaintiff.
See Compl. at 3. On December 10, 1999, the plaintiff lodged
her IFP request with the clerk of this court. See Pro Se Log
Report. On January 4, 2000, the plaintiff went to the clerk's
office to ask about her IFP application and discovered that the
clerk had misplaced the file. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 1.*fn2 On
March 7, 2000, the court denied the plaintiffs request to
proceed IFP. For some reason, however, the court clerk's office
did not send notice of the denial to the plaintiff. See id. at
2. On April 4, 2000, the plaintiff again went to the United
States Courthouse and asked about the status of her IFP request.
See Pl.'s Opp'n at 2. At that time, the clerk's office found
the file, which reflected that the court had denied her IFP
request on March 7, 2000. See id. On April 11, 2000, the
plaintiff paid the filing fee and initiated this action.
A. Legal Standard for 12(b)(6) Motion ...