Terrorized Post Office Worker Sues her Union : Courts: Kim Springer claims officers suppressed ‘damaging information’ about the man accused of stalking her and shooting two of her co-workers.


Kim Springer, the postal worker who police say was stalked for more than a year by a co-worker before he tried to kidnap her during a deadly 38-hour crime spree, will seek $10 million in damages, her attorney said Tuesday.

In a suit to be filed today against her national union and its local branch, Springer, 30, says she continues to suffer “severe embarrassment, humiliation and prolonged emotional distress” that may require years of additional psychotherapy.

She accuses the National Assn. of Letter Carriers and Local 1100, based in Santa Ana, and several officers of suppressing “damaging information” about Mark Richard Hilbun, 39, who will be tried early next year on two counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder, among other charges.


Officials for the union declined comment Tuesday. U.S. Postal Service official Art Martinez, who oversees the Dana Point post office where Springer continues to work, also declined comment.

Police say that on May 6 last year, Hilbun fatally stabbed his mother, Frances Hilbun, 63, and her cocker spaniel in Corona del Mar before driving to the Dana Point post office, where he hoped to kidnap Springer, with whom he had become infatuated.

Shouting “Kim, Kim!” as he fired a round from a .22-magnum revolver, Hilbun killed his best friend, Charles T. Barbagallo, 42, and wounded postal worker Peter Gates, 45, according to the 13-count indictment handed down in January.

Springer, meanwhile, “desperately hid under her mail case in fear of her life, causing (her) to suffer serious emotional and psychological injuries,” according to the document filed in court.

Hilbun then fled the post office and, as part of a three-day rampage that launched a statewide manhunt, allegedly fired six shots at a Newport Beach woman, leaving her critically wounded, and shot and robbed numerous other victims before being arrested in Huntington Beach.

Springer, hired by the Postal Service in 1989, was harassed by Hilbun from July, 1992, until the day he invaded the post office with his gun, the complaint alleged. During that period, it claims, Hilbun repeatedly threatened her and “exhibited bizarre, disturbed and erratic behavior.”

Jack M. Earley, Springer’s attorney, said Tuesday that she may sue the Postal Service but had chosen to sue the union first to have the matter tried in Orange County Superior Court, where the plaintiff has more control.

A suit against postal authorities would have to be tried in U.S. District Court and could even be shifted to workers’ compensation court, should the government choose to do so, Earley said.

Transferring Springer to another post office was discussed but never done, and guards never were provided at the post office, although “supervisors were carrying guns to protect themselves against Hilbun,” Earley said.

Springer formally complained to her union steward in July, 1992, the complaint says. Hilbun was fired in September, 1992, after “blaring his radio and wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants” at work, it continues.

Shortly thereafter, Springer obtained a restraining order from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which arrested Hilbun. He was sent to the psychiatric ward of South Coast Medical Center, where he was treated and later released.

Hilbun was discharged by the Postal Service but posted a grievance with the union, which began an aggressive reinstatement campaign despite telling Springer that her problem would be “taken care of,” the complaint says.

By telling her, “Don’t worry about it,” union officials “effectively took charge of and/or assumed control of Mark Hilbun,” the complaint adds.

Hilbun lost his appeal for reinstatement on April 19, 1993, and the defendants failed to notify Springer that they “were assisting Hilbun with his grievance procedure” and “of the ultimate result of Hilbun’s appeal,” the suit says.

Springer is also seeking legal costs and other damages.