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Homeowner who fortified his mailbox with concrete after vandalism sued by paralyzed driver


Homeowner who fortified his mailbox with metal and concrete after repeated vandalism is sued by driver who was left paralyzed after crashing into it and flipping his truck in Ohio

  • Cletus Snay was driving to work in December 2016 when he crashed his truck into Matthew Burr’s mailbox after losing traction on black ice
  • Snay’s truck overturned and he was left paralyzed, leaving him in a wheelchair
  • He is now suing Burr, who had fortified his mailbox with rocks and cement
  • The unusual case is being heard by Justices with the Ohio Supreme Court 


A homeowner who heavily fortified his mailbox with metal and concrete after it was repeatedly vandalized is being sued by a driver who was left paralyzed after he crashed his truck into it in Ohio

Cletus Snay was driving to work in December 2016 when his Ford pick-up truck crashed into Matthew Burr’s mailbox after losing traction on black ice. 

After striking the mailbox, Mr Snay’s truck overturned and tumbled around 130 feet before stopping on the front lawn of Mr Burr’s home in Bellevue, Ohio. Mr Snay was left paralyzed and is now in a wheelchair. 

Mr Snay is now suing Mr Burr, who had fortified his mailbox and made it out of an eight-inch metal pole which is buried three feet in the ground with rocks and cement on top.   

The Ford pick-up truck crashed into Matthew Burr’s mailbox after losing traction on black ice.

The case was heard by Justices with the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday. 

‘[Mr Snay] slides on black ice and collides with the mailbox post, which, contrary with postal service guidelines, doesn’t break away… Initiating the rollover sequence which results in Mr. Snay’s quadriplegia,’ attorney Kathleen St. John, representing Mr Snay, told the justices according to News 5 Cleveland.    

‘The hazardous object in this case is a severely reinforced mailbox post,’ St. John added.

‘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.’

The Supreme Court justices must decide whether Mr Burr is liable for the crash after Mr Snay claims his truck would not have flipped over if it had not been for the mailbox. 

After striking the mailbox, Mr Snay's truck overturned and tumbled around 130 feet before stopping on the front lawn of Mr Burr's home in Bellevue, Ohio

After striking the mailbox, Mr Snay’s truck overturned and tumbled around 130 feet before stopping on the front lawn of Mr Burr’s home in Bellevue, Ohio

Court documents reveal that the mailbox was heavily fortified by Mr Burr after the original was vandalised – sometimes on purpose. On one occasion, a pumpkin was thrown at the mailbox. 

Teenage boys living across the road are believed to have hit the mailbox with their vehicles and damaged it and snow ploughs would also bend the post when large amounts of snow would hit it.   

After the damage, Mr Burr acquired a sheet of federal guidelines for rural mailboxes and he argues he followed them. 

He used an eight-inch hollow metal pole and buried it into the ground before pouring rocks into the hole as well as dried cement he had left over from a home improvement. 

He said he didn’t add water to harden the cement but suspected that rain would seep into the hole.    

‘Are you telling me a homeowner cannot reinforce their mailbox if they are the victim of repeated vandalism?’ Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor asked.

‘Yes I am, that’s what I’m saying,’ attorney St. John responded. 

Guidelines from the Federal Highway Administration say that Burr’s mailbox post was placed too deep in the ground and made of the wrong material, but was not illegal.

‘Guidelines do not set forth duty of care, they are just guidelines,’ said attorney Doug Leak, who is representing Burr. 

‘The public has an absolute right to travel on the roadways in a usual and ordinary manner. The moment a motorist veers off that course, that same protection does not extend off the roadway.’  

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