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Hey, postman! Watch where you deliver

You might think, 230 years into our history as a nation, that the courts would long ago have decided such a basic issue as this one: can you sue the post office if you slip and fall on mail left on your front porch? But that question wasn't finally answered until today, when the U.S. Supreme Court said, yes, you can.

The court ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania woman, Barbara Dolan, who tripped over packages left on her porch instead of where her mail was normally dropped off. The fall resulted in serious injury to her wrists and back, so she sued the U.S. Postal Service.

Federal law allows some lawsuits against the federal government, but there are exceptions, and the Postal Service argued that Mrs. Dolan's was blocked by one of them -- barring claims due to the "loss, miscarriage, or negligent transmission of letters or postal matter." After all, the government said, the Postal Service delivers 660 million pieces a day to 142 million addresses and shouldn't be sued whenever a postal customer trips on some of it.

Not so, the court concluded today. That section of the law, the justices said, blocks lawsuits dealing only with a failure to deliver the mail on time, in good condition, and to the right address. Just as the Postal Service can be sued when its delivery trucks cause a traffic accident, so it can be sued in a case like this, the justices ruled.

The court voted 7-1 in favor of Mrs. Dolan. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, finding that the law blocks lawsuits in a case like this. And the newest justice, Samuel Alito, was not on the court when the case was argued in November and took no part in the decision.

The Postal Service says that it is taking two actions as a result of today's decision:

-- all letter carriers will be reminded of Postal Service policy requiring them to leave packages "in a safe place;"
-- the policy of leaving packages when customers are not home will now be reviewed.

However, a postal official says that, at this point, it is considered unlikely that the review will result in any change in the policy.

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COMMENTS

All I can say is stupid laws for stupid people, will they never stop. Look where your going and don't try to get rich at the exspense of your peers. I am her peer, how mind numbing.

you know, most of the post office employees that have responded to this have really crappie attitudes. No wonder mail is misdelivered, jammed into mailboxes ti l it tears, and nasty notes are left. There have been a few Nice postal workers that care about what they do but they are the exception. Seems they get the most dour people to work for them. As far as the woman suing, that is silly if she was a putz and tripped over the package. My advice to her and all, Be aware of your surroundings!!!

I for one am not happy about the postal service getting away with not delivering mail to the right address. I was looking out my picture window, watching the mailman put my new checks into my neighbors mailbox. If i hadn't seen that, what are the chances of my checks being returned to me or going into the hands of a dishonest person. I know first hand that my neighbors are not trust worthy, so do you think the post office should be held accountable for my checks getting into the wrong hands? What about identity theft if the postal service delivered a new credit card to the wrong address? HMMMM !!!!

Given that the number of pieces of mail delivered by the US Postal Service is in excess of 210 billion pieces per year ( http://www.usps.com/history/anrpt05/ ), the additional cost per piece, assuming a one-million dollar settlement (and odds are it will be much lower) would be less than 1/2000th of a cent per piece. Don't expect to see costs, or service, change, other than to see reminders to employees who deliver mail to think about where they place packages.

The USPS is no longer "part" of the US Government. As a result. the USPS can be sued.

Most of your critisms are based on your opinion of laywers and cases. Think about it though do you really know the details. Do you know her injurys and what her physical condition was at the time of the accident. Do you realize that the cost of her medical bills was over 50,000. And as for the supreme court justices being unable to make decisions, they were elected by the presidents, who people like you elected. Also as to the lawyer taking this case just to make money, how do you know what the lawyer is like and what he wants? How do you know that he just wants the money? What if he is trying to help the woman to pay her medical bills, did you ever think about that? All that I'm saying is before you point the finger learn the facts.

37 cents to deliver a piece of mail anywhere in the country is a bargain. What if you had to take it yourself? Or send it by pony express? I'm a big fan of the post office and postal workers. They're not perfect but neither am I. Postage is still the biggest bargain in this country. What d you suppose a private carrier would charge? And I'm grateful to my carrier that he leaves packages ata my door when I'm not home. I don't want to have to pick them up mysekf but I'm afraid that's what will happen if this woman wins her lawsuit. And even if she doesn't win it will still cost the postal service a bundle of money to pay for lawyers won't it? My carrier always leaves packages in a clearly visible place. I suppose I could trip over them but I'd have to go out of my way to do so.
A fan of the post office
Joyce Lowery

I always try to put the parcels in a safe place, but if people are going to start thinking about suing because you can't SEE a box on your porch, then I don't have a problem leaving a slip in your mailbox telling you to come to the PO to get it yourself. Have fun spending a few hours on line with everyone else collecting their parcels. Here's a hint, when ordering products for delivery, how about including a message on the package that tells the carrier where to place it.

The only people that profit from lawsuits are the attorneys. Negligence is what it is, not being aware of consequences. I see it every day and it amazes me how people survive their own stupidity.

I work for UPS and if I had ot take back to the warehouse every pkg that no one was home for, we woud have one big overflowing warehouse and many unhappy customers. But we are trained NOT to leave a pkg in front of a doorway where someone may trip over it.

Yet another sad example of just what we as a nation have become. Any wonder those cultures in other lands have so little respect for our culture!!

Life happens, be on the lookout!!

Wow. In all these messages, no one gives a thought that 7 of our 8 (available) supreme court justices felt that there was enough merit to allow this case to move forward. No, we may not know all of the facts - but they did. Anybody trust them?

If it was just her being clumsy, I hope she loses, but I think she definitely should be allowed to sue. Obvious example of why: Say the postman would leave a heavy box leaning against your door so it falls inward on your small child when she opens the door. Clearly, you should be able to sue for negligence in such a case, but by the Post Office's reasoning you'd be barred from doing so.

Suing is the way of this country. No matter what you do or do not do expect someone to sue you for it. I don't blame the people that are getting away with suing - I blame the government (can I sue them for letting all these suits come into our courts).

On another note, why is it the postal service will deliver the mail when it is raining, sleeting, hailing, and all other types of bad weather, but will not deliver the mail if a car is blocking my mailbox?

Sadly, the reslut of this lawsuit will be the rest of us finding time to pick up packages at the post office because they will no longer be left at our door steps. Who had time to chase down a package? I see many packages being returned to sender due to failure to pick-up.

Up next: Can we sue gravity itself?

Hhhhmmmmm....maybe we are all on to something with this crap. Since some of you seem to be happy to sue someone else for your stupidty, maybe I'll give this lawsuit a try:
Since I pay tax on my gas that is supposed to pay for repairs on the roads, I am going to sue the state and fed govts for my repair and upkeep bills, due to inadequate repairs. Also, since I had to replace an old car, that only got old because of poor roads, I will also include the cars I have had to buy over the years.
Let's see, maybe about $500K will do. That's also for the emotional distress of having to go to a mechanic and feeling inferior because I can't do the job myself.......yeah, that's it! Thanks all!

Of course her husband has a case.. How can she have anything left for him?... She is to busy giving it to the taxpayers...

hey i think all americans need to step up to the plate and quit trying to sue everyone.....i thought we were done with that in the ninties....we as a country have made it too easy to sue...people fall, get hurt, just get back up and try again....why cant we sue alcohol co. when we fall down after sipping few hot totties. anyway get over it.

I always wonder about the people who constantly complain about the mail. In this day and age of absurd prices for most anything you want to buy the idea that you can put a stamp on a piece of mail and have an excellent chance of it being delivered safe and sound most anywhere in the country in a week or less, to me sounds like one of the best values around. If you had to deliver a letter or package by yourself think of how much it would cost you. YES, There are problems and mistakes made but anytime human beings are involved mistakes will be made. My thanks to all of the devoted and professional Postal People all across the country.

This is for "Jeff the letter carrier USPS Minn MN": I just want you to know that there are those of us who go the extra mile to make sure ALL sidewalks and porches are shoveled for postal carriers and delivery people because we feel safety comes first and don't want any lawsuits coming our way...so I feel the postal worker should have done the same and gone the extra mile to put this woman's packages in a safer spot out of the way (its just common sense & courtesy).
And this is for "Me": Amen!! If the 'put your stuff where it belongs before someone trips on it' lesson works on kids, it will probably work on adults too!!(it works on my kids too) This particular letter carrier appears to not care or doesn't have any common sense. Our letter carrior always sets any large packages off to the side not in the middle of the walkway.

I had a my letter carrier leave holiday food packages out in the hot Texas sun during the holidays. $300 worth of food down the drain.
Hmmmm.........."food for thought"

I googled the keywords "Barbara Dolan" and "Post Office" and found out what actually happened: The Dolans' regular mail box was downed in a storm, so there was a basket on the porch for mail.

The regular mail person knew this, but on this day there was a subsitute who put a pile of letters, magazines, ecetera on the step where Barbara Dolan would walk out from the door.

The subsitute actually saw the accident.

Barbara Dolan sued for negligence and her husband also sued because she is "unable to perform her spousal duty".

Now the Supreme Court has ruled that she can sue. Whether she and her husband can win is another story.

Well it’s only right. The post office has always claimed that the box on your house belongs to them and no one may use it but them. They have threaten to sue other carriers that use their box. Well the porch belongs to me not them. I have noticed that many carriers think we have no peripheral vision and that if the package is not in our walking path we will not be able to see it. LOL

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