A lawsuit brought on behalf of four Bowling Green apartment complexes against the U.S. Postal Service has been dismissed.
Campus Pointe, Hilltop Club, Midtown and The Crown Apartments brought the suit in January against the postal service and Postmaster Andrea Forsythe.
Filed in U.S. District Court, the lawsuit alleged a recently instituted change by the USPS – from delivering mail to tenants’ individual mailboxes to bulk mail delivery at the property manager’s office of each complex – resulted in some tenants failing to receive important mail.
The change was made in light of the postal service reclassifying those apartment complexes as dormitories. The USPS’ Postal Operations Manual sets out that deliveries of mail to dorms or other student housing are made in bulk to a representative of the dorms, according to court records.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Greg Stivers issued a ruling Thursday that said his court lacked jurisdiction to weigh in on the question of whether the postal service or the apartment complexes are responsible for sorting mail once it has been delivered.
Stivers cited a number of previous decisions from other courts to determine that the complaint about mail delivery raised by the apartment complexes should be heard by the Postal Regulatory Commission instead of a court of law.
Attorney Brian Lowder, who represents the apartment complexes, said he planned to discuss the ruling with officials from each complex and determine how to proceed.
“Our position is we should be able to get relief in the federal district court when the postal service refuses to adhere to its own rules and regulations,” Lowder said.
If an administrative complaint filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission results in a ruling against the apartment complexes, the decision can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Lowder complained in his lawsuit that the management at the apartment complexes did not agree to the change in mail delivery and refused to accept mail.
This led tenants to travel to the post office to receive their mail, some of whom Lowder said did not have adequate transportation and as a result were unable to receive medications, legal notices and other documents.
Some residents arranged to have mail delivered via private carrier or to a different address and used overnight UPS shipping for certain documents, while other tenants without vehicles have had to arrange for transportation or walk to the post office, according to the lawsuit.
“One (resident) was unable to retrieve mail regarding a scheduled court date and a bench warrant was issued for his or her arrest because of a failure to appear,” Lowder said in another filing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Snyder filed a motion in March to dismiss the suit, arguing that the operations of the postal service were exempt from judicial review, meaning the district court is not the proper venue to hear the complaint.
“Plaintiffs challenge merely the Postal Service’s application of its internal delivery regulations to their buildings; they do not allege that such application exceeded the Postal Service’s statutory authority or that it violates the Constitution,” Snyder said in the motion. “Accordingly, the case should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.”