suing the united states post office

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Latest post Fri, Feb 26 2010 6:24 AM by Taxagent. 3 replies.
  • Thu, Feb 25 2010 2:11 PM

    suing the united states post office

    I have a client who sent a package to St. Marteen, in the islands, containing silver jewelry.  He insured the package with the United States Postal Service and paid for the insurance, which they gladly accepted.  The package was lost by the United States Postal Service.

    Now for the fun stuff!

    Silver jewelry is on the United States Postal Services restricted list, and they therefore denied the insurance claim.  The package, when delivered to the United States Postal Service was clearly marked Silver Jewelry.  If such items are on the restricted list they should have never accepted the package, however, as they did, shouldn't they be responsible to pay the insurance that they charged for, and accepted money for?

    The questions are:  1) is a claim against the United States Postal Service actionable, b) if the claim is only 10k, do we bring this in district court, or does it have to be brought in federal court? 

    I'd be grateful for the response from someone who is a lot smarter than I am.

     

    Thanks,

     

    Jerry

  • Thu, Feb 25 2010 2:20 PM In reply to

    • LynnM
      Lawyer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 3 2000
    • CA
    • Posts 28,248

    Re: suing the united states post office

    I doubt the PO will be liable for anything but a refund of the fee unless the party who mailed the package has documentation the the PO was on notice of the contents of the package.

  • Thu, Feb 25 2010 3:02 PM In reply to

    Re: suing the united states post office

    An argument can be made that the sender is supposed to be aware of the restrictions.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Feb 26 2010 6:24 AM In reply to

    Re: suing the united states post office

    commander112a:
    b) if the claim is only 10k, do we bring this in district court, or does it have to be brought in federal court?

    You'd have to bring the claim in either federal district court or the court of federal claims. You can get a jury in the former; there is no jury in the latter. The post office is a federal agency, so if you file a claim against the post office in state court, the U.S. attorney will simply have the case removed to federal court anyway.

    commander112a:
    1) is a claim against the United States Postal Service actionable,

    The problem is that the insurance is sold based on the terms and conditions of the coverage that is offered; your client should have investigated what the insurance actually covered. The federal government is not like other persons with whom you contract. In general, implied contract and implied agency arguments do not work against the federal government. And that's the road you'd likely have to go down if the policy, by its terms, does not cover the silver your client shipped. I've not read the insurance policy that the USPO uses nor do I have all the facts of the transaction at issue here, so I can't say for certain there isn't a theory here that might succeed. But I can certainly see some hurdles ahead in litigating this. Note that because you'd be facing the U.S. Attorney's Office in litigating this, that the litigation might get costly in terms of time—the U.S. Attorney does not have the same kind of cost considerations that you do, and they will thus likely do more to defend this claim than a private corporation would.

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