McNeil v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Superior Court of the District of Columbia

DOCKET NO.: 92-6033
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 508 US 106 (1993)
ARGUED: Apr 19, 1993
DECIDED: May 17, 1993

Allen E. Shoenberger - on behalf of the Petitioner
William K. Kelley - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for McNeil v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 19, 1993 in McNeil v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 92-6033, William McNeil v. the United States.

Mr. Shoenberger.

Allen E. Shoenberger:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The issue in this case today is a single one, whether or not Mr. McNeil can have his day in court on the merits in the case he alleged.

His suit alleges experimentation for AIDS and hepatitis purposes without his consent.

The Government answered agreeing that it had funded the research on male prisoners, but claims that the research was done on him voluntarily.

We believe the Court can answer the question presented in this case without reaching all of the many questions presented in the briefs in this case.

In particular, we believe the case can be answered on the argument that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure rule 15(d) means that he perfected his March, 1989 filing by the August, 1989 letter for filing that he sent to the court.

That appears in the Joint Appendix on page 10.

The case is not about exhaustion.

Mr. McNeil clearly exhausted the Federal administrative remedies.

Indeed, we think he at least exhausted it twice, but certainly he exhausted it once and got a letter from the Federal Government saying that he had a right to sue.

However, the case is rather complicated on its facts and I would like to run through a number of those major facts to show the events.

The case began when he filed, in at least January of 1989, an administrative claim.

In that same month, a letter was sent by the administrative agency saying that his administrative claim, which it was labeled, was being sent to a claims officer.

And he was told that if the case was not settled, he would have to bring a lawsuit.

In February of 1989, he received another letter from that same administrative agency, this letter saying that no records could be found to indicate that such experimentation had been conducted with the Federal Government being involved.

After those two letters, Mr. McNeil believed, apparently, that he had an obligation to sue or his rights would be lost.

He brought suit in March of 1989 and included with that suit a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

In 1989 in May--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Let me stop you there.

Now, do you say that his claim was actually denied in writing?

And if so, which letter do we look to?

Allen E. Shoenberger:

--He believes or he believed that his claim was denied.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

What is your position?

What letter do we look to as a denial?

Allen E. Shoenberger:

You look to... he believed that the combination of the January 24th letter and the February... I believe it's 9th letter, put together, were a denial of his claim.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Is that your position on his behalf?

Allen E. Shoenberger:

That is certainly a reasonable position.

I believe a stronger position--