is, in fact, "an independent establishment of the Executive Branch of the government of the United States . . ." 39 U.S.C. § 201. We are not as unhesitatingly convinced that an "independent establishment" is the same as a "government, government agency or political subdivision." Defendant does little to support its contention.
The cases upon which defendant relies are less than convincing. (Def.Mem. at 2-3 ). In Montalvo v. U.S. Postal Service, 887 F. Supp. 63 (E.D.N.Y. 1995), the question of the Postal Service's status was not litigated, but conceded by the plaintiff therein. 887 F. Supp. at 66. In Suhr v. Runyon, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15548, No. 95 C 50087 (N.D.Ill. Oct. 12, 1995) 1995 WL 617478, the court found that a suit against the Postal Service was "in essence a suit against a federal agency," citing Beth v. Espy, 854 F. Supp. 735, 737 (D.Kan. 1994). Beth dealt with a suit against the Department of Agriculture which, unlike the Postal Service, actually is a government agency and is quite unlike a "sue-and-be-sued" entity in that it had sovereign immunity from punitive damages prior to the 1991 Act. See Doe v. American Nat. Red Cross, 847 F. Supp. 643, 648 (W.D.Wis. 1994) (distinguishing federal instrumentalities from federal agencies); Greenberg v. Republic Federal Savings & Loan Ass'n, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5866, 94 C 3789 (N.D.Ill. May 1, 1995) 1995 WL 263457 (noting same distinction). As already noted, Congress relinquished the Postal Service's sovereign immunity in 1970.
Beyond these citations, and its own tautologous recitations, the defendant offers little to show that the Postal Service qualifies as "a government, government agency or political subdivision." For example, defendant notes that the legislative history of the 1991 Act shows that Congress intended that the remedies available under Title VII did not exceed those available under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. See Johnson v. City of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 903 F. Supp. 1520, 1528 (S.D.Fla. 1995). Arguing that "governmental entities" are not liable for punitive damages under § 1981, defendant suggest that the Postal Service is, therefore, not liable for punitive damages in this case. (Def. Mem. at 6). Once again, however, defendant fails to address the "sue-and-be-sued" commercial nature of the Postal Service. The Postal Service simply cannot be equated with the municipalities and political subdivisions dealt with in the cases upon which defendant relies. See Poolaw v. City of Anadarko, 738 F.2d 364 (10th Cir. 1984); Heritage Homes, Inc. v. Seekonk Water Dist., 670 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1982).
Defendant also refers to Congress' mention of the Postal Service along with executive agencies in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(a). When Congress extended Title VII's proscription against discrimination in employment to government agencies, it referred to "executive agencies" in addition to the Postal Service. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(a). Defendant argues that this evinces Congressional intent to treat the Postal Service the same as other agencies. We can accept that premise with regard to Title VII liability, but not with regard to the punitive damage liability Congress created in the 1991 Act. While § 2000e-16(a) treats the Postal Service the same as an executive agency, it also treats it the same as a military department and the Library of Congress. The provision does not define the Postal Service as an agency, however, anymore than it defines it as a military department or the Library of Congress. The fact that Congress felt it necessary to specifically mention the Postal Service in addition to executive agencies in § 2000e-16(a) indicates--to the contrary of defendant's position--that Congress considered the Postal Service something other than an agency. When, in the 1991 Act, Congress exempted "government, government agency, or political subdivision," it did so without mention of the Postal Service. If the Postal Service was not considered a governmental agency in the drafting of § 2000e-16(a), it does not follow that the Postal Service became an agency--thereby included in the exemption from punitive damages--sometime prior to the drafting of the 1991 Act. If Congress had wanted to exempt the Postal Service from punitive damages in the 1991 Act, it would have mentioned it along with governmental agencies in the same fashion it did in § 2000e-16(a). Defendant's statutory construction argument, then, is no more convincing than his other offerings.
The issue that defendant continues to leave unresolved is the effect of the Postal Service's "sue-and-be-sued" nature on defendant's assertions of general propositions against the imposition of punitive damages on the sovereign. None of these arguments do anything to convince the court that the Postal Service and the sovereign are one and the same. Indeed, outside this courtroom, the Postal Service spends a fair amount of money in advertising, through the likes of George C. Scott, to convince us otherwise, tauting the fact that the Postal Service receives no support through tax dollars whatsoever. While admirable, this fact, like the arguments defendant advances herein, undermines rather than supports defendant's claim of immunity from punitive damages.
Defendant herein has moved, in what appears to be an untimely fashion, to strike plaintiff's claim for punitive damages in this case. The arguments defendant advances against Postal Service liability might support the exemption of governmental agencies in general, but fail to address the Postal Service's status as a "sue-and-be-sued" entity. We cannot accept the analogies defendant draws between the Postal Service and municipalities, water districts, or the Department of Agriculture. Congress intended the Postal Service to be a commercial enterprise wholly unlike those entities. Nor can we accept defendant's suggestion that Congress' mention of the Postal Service along with executive agencies defines the Postal Service as an executive agency anymore than the Postal Service's mention with military departments defines it as one of those. In the end, the defendant has failed to touch on the significance of the Postal Service as a "sue-and-be-sued" entity and, consequently, we are unconvinced that the plaintiff's claim for punitive damages should be stricken.
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ordered that the defendant's motion to strike the plaintiff's claim for punitive damages is DENIED.
EDWARD A. BOBRICK
United States Magistrate Judge
DATE: April 18, 1996