Summary judgment granted to U.S. Postal Service in case involving Nationwide Insurance

By Jon Campisi | Jan 20, 2012

A federal judge in Philadelphia has granted summary judgment to the United States government in a case in which a motorist and her insurance carrier had sued following an automobile accident with a U.S. Postal Service vehicle.

Nationwide Insurance Company had filed suit in the summer of 2010, alleging that postal worker Michael McCollum was to blame for the July 21, 2010 vehicle accident involving its insured, Christy Mauro.

The insurance company contended that McCollum was to blame for the accident due to alleged negligent driving. It sought $4,580.87 in subrogation damages.

The Postal Service had denied Nationwide’s claim in an Oct. 26, 2010 letter, stating that, according to federal law, the plaintiff had only six months to bring forth a claim after the agency mailed its letter denying the plaintiff’s claims; it did so eight months after the accident.

U.S. District Judge John R. Padova agreed with the government, writing that the lawsuit was, indeed, time-barred.

“Nationwide relies solely on its argument that it was only required to comply with the two-year limitations period for presenting its claim to the Postal Service,” the judge’s ruling states. “The law is clear, however, that Nationwide was also required to file its federal lawsuit no later than six months after the Postal Service’s final notice of denial was mailed to Nationwide by certified mail.”

The law states that a claimant must present his or her administrative claim to the appropriate federal agency within a two-year period, but also that the claimant must file a suit in federal court within six months after said claim is denied by the agency.

The ruling states that the record shows the Postal Service mailed its final notice of denial on Oct. 26, 2010, while Nationwide did not file the instant lawsuit until June 23, 2011, more than six months later.

The ruling also dismisses McCollum as a defendant in the action on the grounds that he is immunity to suit according to the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act.

The ruling states that the plaintiff agreed McCollum should be dismissed as a defendant.

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