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Choi v. United States Postal Service

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

March 6, 2019

HYE JA CHOI, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

          Susan Oki Mollway, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Hye Ja Choi mailed five parcels to herself from Japan to Hawaii. She says one of the parcels failed to reach her. After unsuccessfully seeking compensation from the Consulate General of Japan in her original Complaint, Choi filed an Amended Complaint seeking $4, 981 from Defendant United States Postal Service (“USPS”) under the Universal Postal Union's Universal Postal Convention. Because Choi has no private right of action under the Universal Postal Union's Universal Postal Convention, the court dismisses the Amended Complaint. The court issues this decision without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), under which this court has the discretion to decide any motion without a hearing.

         II. BACKGROUND.

         On June 30, 2016, Choi mailed five parcels in Japan to herself to Hawaii. Choi says she did not receive one of the parcels, No. CD264193304JP, which she says had a value of $1, 400. See Amended Complaint at 1-2, ECF No. 27, PageID #s 203-04. The shipping label for that parcel, however, lists its value as $30 or ¶3, 000. See ECF No. 27-1, PageID # 206.

         In her original Complaint, Choi blamed the loss of the parcel on the Japan Post. Choi filed a claim for the value of the missing parcel with the Japan Post, but the claim was rejected because the parcel had supposedly been given to the USPS. See ECF No. 1-2, PageID # 11.

         On April 25, 2018, this court dismissed Choi's original Complaint, ruling that the sole Defendant named in it, the Consulate General of Japan, could not be liable for the loss of a parcel by the Japan Post. The court dismissed the original Complaint for lack of jurisdiction, but gave Choi leave to file an Amended Complaint against a different defendant. ECF No. 21.

         On June 29, 2018, Choi filed an Amended Complaint, naming Defendant USPS. See ECF No. 27. The amended pleading says the USPS is responsible for losing Choi's parcel. Id., PageID # 205. Choi seeks damages under the “UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION (Universal Postal Treaty).” Id., PageID # 205. The United States is currently a member of the Universal Postal Union. See http://www.upu.int/en/the-upu/member-countries.html#u (last visited March 5, 2019).[1]

         The Universal Postal Union's Acts of the 26th Congress (Istanbul 2016) sets forth a consumer's rights when a member country's postal service loses a parcel. See http://www.upu.int/uploads/tx sbdownloader/actsActsOfThe26ThCongr essIstanbul2016En.pdf at 154-56 (last visited March 5, 2019).

         Under Article 22, section 3.1, when an ordinary parcel is lost,

the sender shall be entitled to an indemnity of an amount set in the Regulations. If the sender has claimed an amount less than the amount set in the Regulations, designated operators may pay that lower amount and shall receive reimbursement on this basis from any other designated operators involved.

         Under Article 22, section 8, the sender or the addressee “shall also be entitled to repayment of the charges and fees paid for posting the item with the exception of the registration or insurance charge.” But under Article 23, section 2.7, member countries and “designated operators” are not liable for lost parcels “when the sender has made no inquiry within six months from the day after that on which the item was posted.” The USPS explains how to exercise these rights in its International Mail Manual, defining an “inquiry” as including a request “concerning the disposition of an item mailed to or from a foreign country” and a complaint or report “concerning the loss, damage, missing contents, or improper delivery or return of an item mailed to or from a foreign country.” https://mailomg.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/imm-international-mai l-manual-2018-united-states-postal-service1.pdf#G12.1052609 at 239. The manual describes how to initiate an inquiry and requires inquiries for “Priority Mail International or Registered Mail” to be filed no later than six months from the mailing date. Id. at 240-41. The manual also describes the claim process.

         Before filing a claim for an ordinary parcel, a consumer must complete the inquiry process. Id. at 242-44. Indemnity payments with respect to claims arising out of the sending of ordinary parcels from foreign origins “are adjudicated by Accounting Services in St. Louis, Missouri.” Id. at 245. That office's decision may be appealed to the International Claims Appeals, Accounting Services, within 60 days of the decision. Id. If the International Claims Appeals sustains the original decision, “the customer may submit an additional appeal within 60 days for final review and decision to the Consumer Advocate, International Claim Appeals.” Id. at 246.

         Neither the Manual nor the Universal Postal Union's Acts of the 26th Congress (Istanbul 2016) provides for the filing of a lawsuit in this court.

         According to Leslie Hill, the Supervisor, Claims Accounting Branch of the USPS Accounting Service Center, Choi has not submitted any claim for the loss of her package. See ...


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