The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 provided, “There is established, as an independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States, the United States Postal Service [USPS].” The USPS, successor to the United States Post Office Department, employed 515,750 “career employees” and had $78.8 billion in revenue in 2022, per its website.. Litigation trends involving such a vast public sector entity are of particular interest.
Docket Alarm has identified 5,937 federal court district filings involving the USPS since the beginning of 2013. The average number of monthly filings has held steady in the high 40s with only a few outliers in which filings spiked to 75 or above or fell into the mid 20s. Cases resolve relatively quickly, pending on average for only about six months. The USPS is a defendant approximately 97% of the time.
Of the specifically identified types of actions, the most common subject matter is motor vehicle related incidents at 828 cases. The second largest category is Personal Injury – Other, at 355 cases. The prevalence of such kinds of actions is not surprising given the vast fleet of USPS vehicles on the roads and large number of patrons each day who enter USPS facilities, giving rise to “slip and fall” type claims.
Given a workforce of well over half a million employees, it is also not surprising that that employment related claims are another frequently identified category at 234 cases. If anything, the surprise is that the number is so low; in part, that may be because that may be because many postal employees seek redress through union grievance procedures.
By far and away, California federal district courts have seen the most filings at 1486 with 1226 of them in the Central District. New York federal district courts are in second place with 637 fillings.
USPS counsel in virtually all cases are federal government lawyers.