Appeals court hears case of man paralyzed from crash with reinforced mailbox

This mailbox sure delivers a big surprise.

An Ohio man who built a virtually indestructible mailbox because he was sick of people smashing it is being sued by a motorist who crashed into the thing and got paralyzed, according to a report.

Matthew Burr allegedly turned his front-yard letter box into a postal fortress, by constructing it out of a thick metal post that was buried three feet in the ground and reinforced with rocks and cement, according to reports.

It was so strong that when plaintiff Cletus Slay’s pickup truck slid off the road on some black ice in December 2016 and rammed into the box, it allegedly caused his vehicle to flip over and left him seriously injured, Slay’s lawyer, Kathleen St. John, told a panel of Ohio Supreme Court judges Wednesday, according to News 5 Cleveland.

Burr took the extreme measure to fortify his mailbox after it was repeatedly vandalized over the years, including being knocked over, having a pumpkin thrown at it and vehicles clipping it, the outlet reported.

While the mailbox’s construction goes against Federal Highway Administration guidelines, it’s not illegal, News 5 reported.

Nevertheless, Slay’s lawyers argued that it was wrong to make something that could be so dangerous in the event of an innocent accident.

“The hazardous object in this case is a severely reinforced mailbox post,” the outlet reported of St. John’s arguments. “An owner of property is not justified in inflicting, without warning, bodily harm upon the person of a trespasser or petty pilferer by means of traps, spring guns or instrumentalities of destruction unless he would have been justified in using that force if he had been personally present.”

Matthew Burr was sick of people smashing his mailbox.
Matthew Burr was sick of people smashing his mailbox.

The appeals court must decide whether Burr should be liable for damages since Slay’s lawyer claims his truck wouldn’t have flipped in the first place if the mailbox hadn’t been reinforced.

But Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor pushed back, saying, “Are you telling me a homeowner cannot reinforce their mailbox if they are the victim of repeated vandalism?,” the news site reported.

St. John responded, “Yes, I am. That’s what I’m saying.”

Burr’s lawyer Doug Leak countered: “The public has an absolute right to travel on the roadways in a usual and ordinary manner.

“The moment a motorist veers off the course, that same protection does not extend off the roadway.”

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