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Postal Service refuses to pay for repairs after mail carrier fleeing dogs leaps on truck

USPS refuses to pay for damaged truck

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The United States Postal Service (USPS) refused to cover the cost of repairs after a working mail carrier jumped on the back of an east side resident’s truck while fleeing from a neighbor’s unleashed dogs.

The incident occurred Sept. 9, 2019 in the 700 block of Melvenia Street, according to Marcus French, the owner of the Dodge Ram 1500.

French provided copies of repair estimates for dents and paint damage he alleged were caused by the mail carrier, totaling approximately $4,500.

Footage from home security cameras obtained by News 8 shows the frenzied chase from at least two angles.

In the video, the unidentified USPS mail carrier can be seen tossing a handful of envelopes in the air and running up French’s driveway with two pit bull-type dogs in hot pursuit.

The video shows him leaping onto the back of the truck, swinging his legs over the side of the vehicle and resting his feet behind the cab in an apparent effort to escape the dogs.

The security footage has no audio.

“I was really baffled by what I saw,” said French, who was taking a shower when the incident occurred and reviewed the footage later that day. “[The dogs] got out of the yard and chased the mailman and he decided to take a flying leap onto my truck.”

He questioned why the mail carrier didn’t jump the fence to seek refuge in his yard or run back to his own vehicle. 

“In the video, you can see he had other options,” French explained. “It just seemed like he wasn’t really paying attention to his surroundings.”

He filed a police report and contacted animal control the same day. Truck repair estimates were prepared the following day.

However, despite official documentation and video evidence of the incident, the USPS denied an administrative claim filed by French under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

In March, French received a letter from the USPS notifying him of their determination regarding the Sept. 2019 claim.

“The Postal Service is not legally obligated to pay all losses which may occur, but only those caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee acting in the scope of his/her employment,” the letter states. “An investigation of this matter failed to establish a negligent act or omission on the part of the U.S. Postal Service or its employees. In addition, your neighbor’s ‘at large’ dog was in violation of Indianapolis, IN’s Leash Ordinance Code. While we regret any damages or injuries that may have occurred, we cannot accept legal liability for them. Accordingly, this claim is denied.”

The owner of the two dogs could not be reached for comment.

USPS representatives declined to provide News 8 with additional information about the investigation resulting in the claim denial. 

A spokesperson emailed a statement to News 8 maintaining the claim was “adjudicated in accordance with the Federal Tort Claims Act as required under federal law” in response to requests for comment.

French called the determination “unfair.” 

“It wasn’t [my neighbor’s] dogs that jumped on my truck,” he reasoned. “It was a federal government employee.”

“It’s not a big deal now; but [the mail carrier] never even said he was sorry,” Marcus French told News 8. (Photo: Marcus French)