Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Supreme Court: Idiots Can Sue Postal Service

From the AP:

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Postal Service can be sued by a woman who tripped over mail left on her porch.

7-1 decision revived a Pennsylvania woman's claim that she was entitled to damages after suffering wrist and back injuries during the 2001 fall at her home in suburban Philadelphia. The letters, packages and periodicals were put on Barbara Dolan's porch instead of in her mailbox.

This is a lesson for the postal service: don't provide better service than expected. Some idiot might not watch where she's going and end up suing you. If this woman is incapable of going outside without tripping over her own mail, she shouldn't be going out at all (and probably would have tripped over her own feet on the way to the mialbox).

Justices had been asked to interpret a federal law that bars lawsuits over the "loss, miscarriage or negligent transmission of letters or postal matter." The court said the law did not cover Dolan's claim...

Justice Clarence Thomas sided with the government. In a lone dissent, he said that personal injury lawsuits resulting from mail delivery should be prohibited.

Thomas said that under the law, the post office cannot be sued if a carrier negligently drops a package of glassware, and if the customer is cut by the shattered glass. It makes no sense, he said, for the court to allow that same customer to sue if he trips on the package.

"There is no basis in the text (of the law) for the line drawn," he wrote.

New Justice Samuel Alito did not participate in the ruling, because he was not on the court when the case was argued.

Since the delivery had been completed, the woman really should be suing herself for negligent walking.

Technorati Tags: ,


April said...

Where should they leave them? In the street? In a planter? In a pile of dog doo in the grass?

Nick said...

With the information that we have, I would expect people to find a way to trip over them in all of those locations too. They could require all packages to be picked up at the post office, as Chief Justice Roberts suggested during oral arguments, but people would probably injure themselves on the way there and sue.

Hopefully she will lose at trial when the judge or jury realizes that the whole thing could be averted if she had just watched where she was walking. It was mail, not a booby-trap.