‘Mailbox rule’ can’t be boxed in presumption

/ 19.Aug, 2014
You’ve got mail! Sorry, no presumptions please! That’s the gist of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in a case between an employer and a former employee over the applicability of the “mail box rule” under the auspices of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The woman, Lisa Lupyan, claimed that her former employer, Corinthian Colleges Inc., had interfered with her FMLA rights by not informing her that her leave for depression was under FMLA. Lisa said that she never got a letter that the company was required to send, while the company claimed otherwise. Earlier, the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania had granted summary judgment to Corinthian Colleges Inc. under the mail box rule on the premise that a letter that is put in the U.S. postal system is presumed to have arrived at its destination and been received by the person to whom it’s addressed. In the suit brought by Lisa before the U.S. Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel said that litigants can’t be expected to prove a negative. Chief Justice Theodore McKee noted the ease with which letters can now be sent with tracking information and concluded, “Where, as here, denial of receipt creates a genuine issue of material fact, justice should not give way to expediency or the rigid application of a common-law presumption that was adopted long before modern forms of communication and proof could have even been imagined.” Viewed from this perspective, the mailbox rule seems to have come to the end of its run, with the onus of proving receipt of mail resting on the contesting party. For more details on this case, please go to