Case: Johnakin v. U.S. Postal Service

2:20-cv-04055 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Filed Date: Aug. 19, 2020

Closed Date: Nov. 25, 2020

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Case Summary

On August 19, 2020, a Philadelphia voter and independent congressional candidate filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Pennsylvania where it was assigned to Judge Anita B. Brody and subsequently transferred to Judge Gerald A. McHugh. The plaintiff sued the United States Postal Service, the Postmaster General, and the President of the United States alleging that operational changes to the Postal Service, beginning in June 2020, violated Pennsylvania voters' First and …

On August 19, 2020, a Philadelphia voter and independent congressional candidate filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Pennsylvania where it was assigned to Judge Anita B. Brody and subsequently transferred to Judge Gerald A. McHugh. The plaintiff sued the United States Postal Service, the Postmaster General, and the President of the United States alleging that operational changes to the Postal Service, beginning in June 2020, violated Pennsylvania voters' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights in connection with the 2020 election, specifically related to Freedom of Speech and Equal Protection. Represented by private counsel, the candidate asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that changes at the Postal Services would hinder Pennsylvania voters' ability to vote by mail during the COVID-19 health crisis. The Postal Service changes included reducing mail processing machines, removing hundreds of high-volume mail-processing machines, and removing mailboxes, allegedly in areas with high concentrations of minority, low income, and Democratic voters. 

The candidate moved to enjoin the Postal Service from implementing operational and policy changes leading up to the election through a preliminary injunction, which the candidate filed on September 18, 2020. The candidate requested that the court enjoin the implementation of operational changes beginning in June 2020 and sought to prohibit the Postal Service from reducing staff hours, prohibiting overtime, and prohibiting late trips prior to the General Election on November 3, 2020. The candidate also sought to prohibit the Postal Service from other acts that would delay the delivery of mail to election officials.

The court did not decide this preliminary injunction because the parties settled on October 8, 2020. The Postal Service agreed to restrictions that limited its ability to reduce retail hours, remove collection boxes and mail sorting machines, and close or consolidate mail processing facilities. The Postal Service also agreed that “late or extra trips that are reasonably necessary to complete timely mail delivery would not be unreasonably restricted or prohibited,” and that it would not ban or newly restrict employee overtime. Additionally, the Postal Service agreed to prioritize the delivery of election mail in a timely manner consistent with the long-standing practices of the United States Postal Service. The parties’ agreement restricted the Postal Service operational and policy procedures during the 2020 election. As such, the court retained jurisdiction of the case until the 2020 election was complete. On November 25, 2020, the court dismissed the case with prejudice because no subsequent issues arose.

Summary Authors

Betsy Sheppard (2/16/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17460457/parties/johnakin-v-united-states-postal-service/


Judge(s)

McHugh, Gerald Austin Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Van Der Veen, Michael T (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Borson, Joseph Evan (District of Columbia)

Cholera, Kuntal (District of Columbia)

Clark, Jeffrey Bossert (District of Columbia)

Gill, Eric D (Pennsylvania)

McSwain, William M. (District of Columbia)

Robinson, John (District of Columbia)

Womack, Eric R. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

McHugh, Gerald Austin Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Van Der Veen, Michael T (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Borson, Joseph Evan (District of Columbia)

Cholera, Kuntal (District of Columbia)

Clark, Jeffrey Bossert (District of Columbia)

Gill, Eric D (Pennsylvania)

McSwain, William M. (District of Columbia)

Robinson, John (District of Columbia)

Womack, Eric R. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Johnakin v. United States Postal Service

Nov. 25, 2020 Docket
1

Complaint and Request for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief

Aug. 19, 2020 Complaint
5

Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Johnakin v. United States Postal Service

Sept. 18, 2020 Pleading / Motion / Brief
18

Joint Stipulation to Stay Case in Light of Settlement Agreement

Johnakin v. United States Postal Service

Oct. 8, 2020 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Title Description External URL

Johnakin v. U.S. Postal Service

Healthy Elections Project

The USPS allegedly enacted operational challenges after June 2020 that reduced postal service worker hours, forbade overtime, and removed sorting machines, thus affecting the postal service's ability… Oct. 18, 2020 https://healthyelections-case-tracker.stanford.edu/detail?id=210

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17460457/johnakin-v-united-states-postal-service/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against All Defendants ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0313-14507322.), filed by MELVIN JOHNAKIN. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit A, # 2 Case Management Track Form, # 3 Civil Cover Sheet, # 4 Designation Form)(VANDERVEEN, MICHAEL) (Entered: 08/19/2020)

1 Exhibit Exhibit A

View on PACER

2 Case Management Track Form

View on PACER

3 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

4 Designation Form

View on PACER

Aug. 19, 2020 Clearinghouse

Summons Issued

Aug. 24, 2020 PACER

Summons Issued as to LOUIS DeJOY, DONALD J. TRUMP, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE. Forwarded To: Michael T. Vanderveen on 8/24/20 (fdc, )

Aug. 24, 2020 PACER
2

NOTICE of Appearance by KUNTAL V. CHOLERA on behalf of LOUIS DeJOY, DONALD J. TRUMP, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE (CHOLERA, KUNTAL) (Entered: 08/28/2020)

Aug. 28, 2020 PACER
3

NOTICE of Hearing: A RULE 16 CONFERENCE IS SET FOR 9/22/2020 AT 10:00 AM BEFORE HONORABLE ANITA B. BRODY.(jwl, ) (Main Document 3 replaced on 9/3/2020) (jwl, ). Modified on 9/3/2020 (jwl, ). (Entered: 09/03/2020)

Sept. 3, 2020 RECAP

Set Deadlines/Hearings

Sept. 3, 2020 PACER

RULE 16 CONFERENCE is SET FOR 9/22/2020 at 10:00 AM BEFORE HONORABLE ANITA B. BRODY. (jwl, )

Sept. 3, 2020 PACER
4

NOTICE of Appearance by ERIC D. GILL on behalf of UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE with Certificate of Service(GILL, ERIC) (Entered: 09/10/2020)

Sept. 10, 2020 PACER
5

MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by MELVIN JOHNAKIN.Memorandum, Certificate of Service. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A)(VANDERVEEN, MICHAEL) (Entered: 09/18/2020)

1 Exhibit A

View on PACER

Sept. 18, 2020 Clearinghouse
6

Letter to Judge Brody dated September 18, 2020 to Continue Rule 16 Conference Scheduled on September 22, 2020 filed by UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE.(GILL, ERIC) Modified on 9/21/2020 (tjd). (Entered: 09/18/2020)

Sept. 18, 2020 RECAP
7

NOTICE of Hearing: THE RULE 16 TELEPHONE CONFERENCE IS RESCHEDULED FOR 9/24/2020 AT 11:30 AM BEFORE HONORABLE ANITA B. BRODY.(jwl, ) (Entered: 09/18/2020)

Sept. 18, 2020 RECAP
8

NOTICE of Appearance by JOHN ROBINSON on behalf of LOUIS DeJOY, DONALD J. TRUMP, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE (ROBINSON, JOHN) (Entered: 09/21/2020)

Sept. 21, 2020 RECAP
9

PROPOSED DISCOVERY PLAN UNDER RI]LE 26(fl by MELVIN JOHNAKIN.(VANDERVEEN, MICHAEL) Modified on 9/22/2020 (tjd). (Entered: 09/21/2020)

Sept. 21, 2020 RECAP
10

AFFIDAVIT of Service (VANDERVEEN, MICHAEL) (Entered: 09/24/2020)

Sept. 24, 2020 PACER
11

NOTICE of Appearance by JOSEPH E. BORSON on behalf of LOUIS DeJOY, DONALD J. TRUMP, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE (BORSON, JOSEPH) (Entered: 09/24/2020)

Sept. 24, 2020 PACER
12

NOTICE re: Cancellation of Hearing(jwl, ) (Entered: 09/24/2020)

Sept. 24, 2020 PACER
13

ORDER THAT THE ABOVE-CAPTIONED CASE IS DIRECTLY REASSIGNED FROM THE CALENDAR OF THE HONORABLE ANITA B. BRODY TO THE CALENDAR OF THE HONORABLE GERALD A. MCHUGH, AS RELATED TO COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL VS. LOUIS DEJOY, ET AL, CIVIL ACTION NO. 20-4096. SIGNED BY KATE BARKMAN, CLERK OF COURT ON 9/24/20. 9/24/20 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(kw, ) (Entered: 09/24/2020)

Sept. 24, 2020 RECAP
14

Joint MOTION for Protective Order (FRE 502(d) Order) filed by LOUIS DeJOY, DONALD J. TRUMP, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE..(BORSON, JOSEPH) (Entered: 09/24/2020)

Sept. 24, 2020 RECAP
15

ORDER THAT THE COURT HEREBY ENTERS THIS PROTECTIVE ORDER TO PROTECT CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATION THAT MAY BE PRODUCED AS PART OF THE EXPEDITED DISCOVERY RESPONSE, OR AS OTHERWISE REQUIRED IN THE COURSE OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN THIS ACTION AND TO SET FORTH MANDATORY PROCEDURES FOR PERSONS WHO RECEIVE OR REVIEW DOCUMENTS OR INFORMATION PRODUCED SUBJECT TO THIS ORDER, ETC. SIGNED BY HONORABLE GERALD A. MCHUGH ON 9/25/20. 9/25/20 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(kw, ) (Entered: 09/25/2020)

Sept. 25, 2020 PACER
16

NOTICE by LOUIS DeJOY, DONALD J. TRUMP, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE re 5 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction re Stipulation and Proposed Order to Extend Time for Defendants to Respond**(COPY FORWARDED TO JUDGE FOR APPROVAL)** (ROBINSON, JOHN) Modified on 10/2/2020 (tjd). (Entered: 10/01/2020)

Oct. 1, 2020 RECAP
17

STIPULATION AND ORDER THAT DEFTS' DEADLINE TO RESPOND TO PLFF'S MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION IS EXTENDED TO 10/9/2020. SIGNED BY HONORABLE GERALD A. MCHUGH ON 10/2/20. 10/2/20 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(kw, ) (Entered: 10/02/2020)

Oct. 2, 2020 RECAP
18

STIPULATION TO STAY CASE IN LIGHT OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT by MELVIN JOHNAKIN.**(COPY FORWARDED TO THE JUDGE FOR APPROVAL)** (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B)(VANDERVEEN, MICHAEL) Modified on 10/9/2020 (tjd). (Entered: 10/08/2020)

1 Exhibit A

View on RECAP

2 Exhibit B

View on RECAP

Oct. 8, 2020 Clearinghouse
19

JOINT STIPULATION AND ORDER THAT ALL DEADLINES IN THIS ACTION ARE STAYED PENDING FURTHER ORDER OF THE COURT OR THE DISMISSAL OF THIS ACTION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE GERALD A. MCHUGH ON 10/16/20. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B) 10/16/20 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(kw, ) (Entered: 10/16/2020)

Oct. 16, 2020 PACER
20

STIPULATION of Dismissal by MELVIN JOHNAKIN. (VANDERVEEN, MICHAEL) (Entered: 11/25/2020)

Nov. 25, 2020 RECAP
21

ORDERED THAT THIS ACTION IS DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. SIGNED BY HONORABLE GERALD A. MCHUGH ON 11/25/20. 11/27/20 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(jaa, ) (Entered: 11/27/2020)

Nov. 25, 2020 PACER
20

STIPULATION of Dismissal by MELVIN JOHNAKIN. (VANDERVEEN, MICHAEL) (Entered: 11/25/2020)

Nov. 25, 2020 RECAP
21

ORDERED THAT THIS ACTION IS DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. SIGNED BY HONORABLE GERALD A. MCHUGH ON 11/25/20. 11/27/20 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(jaa, ) (Entered: 11/27/2020)

Nov. 25, 2020 PACER

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Healthy Elections COVID litigation tracker

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 19, 2020

Closing Date: Nov. 25, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Independent candidate for Congress from Philadelphia

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

President of the United States, Federal

United States Postal Service, Federal

Postmaster General, Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Voluntary Dismissal

Order Duration: 2020 - 2020

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief request withdrawn/mooted

Issues

General:

Mail

Voting access

Voting:

Election administration