Lawsuit filed against United States Postal Service in Bowling Green

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Local apartment complexes have filed a lawsuit against the United State Postal Service in Bowling Green after a recent change in mail delivery left hundreds of Bowling Green apartment residents without mail distribution.

Originally, the United State Postal Service said in a statement to WNKY that they are prohibited from distributing mail to individual mailboxes for dormitories or residence halls.

The USPS manual states that an apartment complex will qualify as a dormitory or residence hall if it “often consists of single or multi-room units that may share or have access to centrally located kitchens, bathrooms, showers, or social or common areas, whether located on or off campus, and regardless of private ownership, such buildings are nevertheless dormitories.”

The USPS refusal to distribute mail has left the managers in charge of mail distribution.

The complexes are suing based on USPS handbook Section 631.7:

“The existing mode of delivery must be retained absent an agreement otherwise… Where there is no homeowners’ association or other property management company with authority to request a conversion on behalf of the owners, residents, or the community, customer signatures must be obtained prior to any conversion. In single-family housing areas (including manufactured housing and mobile homes) where the residences and lots are owned, each owner must agree to the conversion in writing. Owners who do not agree must be allowed to retain their current mode of delivery.”

 The handbook also states in Section 631.8 Correction of Improper Mode of Delivery:

“In the event an improper mode of delivery is established or extended by a postal carrier or manager, the service will be withdrawn with a thirty (30) day advance notice to the affected customer(s), provided that the error is detected and the customer is notified within one (1) year. If the error is not detected and the customer is not notified within one (1) year of the date delivery is established or extended, the improper service remains in place unless the customer consents to the delivery mode change or a delivery point with improper modes of delivery in a vacant delivery is first identified during the vacant period per section 623.5.”

Apartment managers from at least four Bowling Green complexes have been rejecting delivered mail from the post office in order to ensure they are not viewed as agreeing with the change of delivery mode.

“We have had tenant that have had medication delivered to them that have not been able to get it timely as a result of this issue, said Brian Lowder, attorney.

The issue has caught the attention of the federal government as well.

“This is something that is not just happening in Bowling Green, it seems to be a national policy. We are working with the committee, which is the government oversight and reform committee. Sit down with them and say, ‘Let’s come up with a policy,’” said Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie.

 When WNKY reached out to the United States Postal Service in December, they issued a statement saying:

“Once this situation came to light, changes were made to ensure the delivery mode was in compliance with postal regulations. USPS is specifically prohibited from distributing mail to individual mailboxes for apartments meeting our definition of a dormitory or residence hall. An apartment complex qualifying as a dormitory or residence hall “often consists of single or multi-room units that may share or have access to centrally located kitchens, bathrooms, showers, or social or common areas. Whether located on or off campus, and regardless of private ownership, such buildings are nevertheless dormitories.” Post Office Operations Manual (“POM”) 631.62

 “The Postal Service hopes for the speedy resolution of this issue to avoid further inconvenience for residents. In most instances, cooperation between USPS and the property owner results in a seamless transition.”

The whole Section 631.62 reads:

“Dormitories or Residence Halls Mail is delivered to dormitory buildings and residence halls when addressed to a specific building. Mail is delivered in bulk to a designated representative of the school or property, who then becomes responsible for further distribution to students and residents. Where no direct affiliation with the school is established, the Postal Service determines the proper mode of delivery to be established and may require that designees from the property be identified to accept mail for each location prior to initiating delivery. A dormitory building or residence hall often consists of single or multi-room units that may share or have access to centrally located kitchens, bathrooms, showers, or social or common areas. Whether located on or off campus, and regardless of private ownership, such buildings are nevertheless dormitories and either the school or building owner is Delivery Services 631.7 POM Issue 9, July 2002 323 Updated With Revisions Through July 7, 2016 responsible for the final delivery of student mail. Post Office personnel do not distribute mail into apartment-type mailboxes for dormitories or residence halls.”

When asked for a response, Susan Wright, a member of the USPS corporate communications team, told WNKY that they could not comment due to pending litigation.