Mailbox rule - Apply to dispute process, late payments etc?

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Mailbox rule - Apply to dispute process, late payments etc?

Postby ChrisGreen » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:52 am

A “strong presumption” of receipt applies when notice is sent by certified mail, because it creates actual evidence of delivery in the form of a receipt. Santana Gonzalez v. Att ‘y Gen ., 506 F.3d 274, 279 (3d Cir.2007) (emphasis added). A “weaker presumption” arises where delivery is sent via regular mail, for which no receipt, or other proof of delivery, is generated. Id. In the absence of actual proof of delivery, receipt can be proven circumstantially by introducing evidence of business practices or office customs pertaining to mail. United States v. Hannigan, 27 F.3d 890, 893 (3d Cir.1994). This evidence may be in the form of a sworn statement. Id. at 895; Custer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 503 F.3d 415, 420 (5th Cir.2007) (“a sworn statement is credible evidence of mailing for the purposes of the mailbox rule.”). However, because the presumption is weak where proof of receipt is attempted solely by circumstantial evidence, we require the affiant to have “personal knowledge” of the procedures in place at the time of the mailing. Kyhn v. Shinseki, 716 F.3d 572, 574 (3d Cir.2013).

. . .

Rebutting the Presumption of Receipt

Pursuant to the mailbox rule, once a party proves mailing, the presumption of receipt “imposes the burden of production on the party against whom it is directed[.]” McCann v. Newman Irrevocable Trust, 458 F.3d 281, 287 (3d Cir.2006). Federal Rule Evidence 301 provides the default rule for how presumptions operate in federal civil cases. Specifically, the party the presumption operates against has the burden of producing evidence to rebut the presumption, while the actual burden of persuasion remains does not change. McCann, 458 F.3d at 287. Under this “bursting bubble” theory, the “ ‘introduction of evidence to rebut a presumption destroys that presumption, leaving only that evidence and its inferences to be judged against the competing evidence and its inferences to determine the ultimate question at issue.’ “ McCann, 458 F.3d at 287–88 (quoting McKenna v. Pac. Rail Serv., 32 F.3d 820, 829–30 (3d Cir.1994).

Moreover, the “quantum of evidence” needed to burst an evidentiary presumption's bubble in a civil case is “minimal.” McCann, 458 F.3d at 288. “[T]he presumption's only effect is to require the party [contesting it] to produce enough evidence substantiating [the presumed fact's absence] to withstand a motion for summary judgment or judgment as a matter of law on the issue.” Id. Accordingly, a single, nonconclusory affidavit or witness's testimony, when based on personal knowledge and directed at a material issue, is sufficient to defeat summary judgment. See, e.g., Kirleis v. Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C., 560 F.3d 156, 161–63 (3d Cir.2009). This remains true even if the affidavit is “selfservi ng.”2 Id.

Accordingly, under Rule 301, Lupyan's contention that she had no notice that her leave was subject to the limitations of the FMLA because she never received CCI's Letter, sufficiently burst the mailbox rule's presumption, to require a jury to determine the credibility of her testimony, as well as that of CCI's witnesses. The District Court therefore erred in rejecting Lupyan's affidavit as a matter of law based on her inability to corroborate her claim that she never received the Letter from CCI. Appx. I at 4.

By Chris Green
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