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Letter Stamped 'DECEASED' Sparks Suit by Mom

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 02, 2009 8:50 AM

A mom who received a letter stamped "DECEASED" in red letters by The United States Postal Service (USPS) has filed a lawsuit in Minneapolis federal court.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Ms. Joan Najbar of Duluth, Minn. is suing the USPS because a letter that she sent to her son in Iraq was returned to her address and stamped "DECEASED" on the envelope though her son was actually alive and well.

The lawsuit claims that when she received the 'DECEASED' letter, Ms. Najbar suffered from emotional distress caused by the negligence of the post office. Ms. Najbar's complaint alleges that "as a result of receiving the letter indicating that her son was dead, Ms. Najbar suffered emotional distress with physical manifestations."

Ms. Najbar's son, Mr. Sam Eininger was stationed in Iraq serving with the National Guard. The letter incident occurred back in 2006.

Ms. Najbar managed to get in contact with her son in order to verify that he was indeed alive. Her son was quoted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as saying, "I was out on patrol, and I got a message to call my mom. I called her immediately after I got back, and she told me what happened. She didn't sound pleased. I couldn't blame her."

Ms. Najbar is a clinical social worker who has a history of criticizing US military policies. The AP reports that Ms. Najbar took part in an anti-war protest on the steps of the Duluth post office just days before she received the letter. Her attorney is looking into whether her participation in the protest is connected with her receiving the letter.

Ms. Najbar filed a claim in 2008 with the USPS over the letter stamped 'DECEASED'. She requested $118,000 in damages, but her claim was denied twice. The USPS informed her that they found no negligence on their part.

The amount she is suing for in this lawsuit is unknown, but Ms. Najbar is seeking relief from damages resulting from the "DECEASED' letter that include loss of income, attorney's fees and other expenses.

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