Pennies, pennies, dimes and quarters may be legal tender, but more than 6,500 pounds of change is not a valid form of payment, a Colorado judge ruled last week after a defendant tried to deliver $23,500 in coins to settle a legal dispute.
Larimer County Judge Joseph Findley said the shipment of more than three tons was done “maliciously and in bad faith” and that the defendant, a welding company, must now pay more for its actions.
The welding company, JMF Enterprises LLC, and its owner, John Frank, were sued by a custom fabrication company, Fired Up Fabrication LLC, which said it worked as a subcontractor for JMF Enterprises but was not fully paid.
The companies agreed to a settlement through mediation, but the agreement did not specify the form of payment, according to Judge Findley’s order.
A day after the payment deadline, on Friday night, JMF Enterprises attempted to make an “overnight delivery” to Fired Up Fabrications, but company officials refused because they initially thought the delivery was a forklift, according to the judge’s order.
The following Monday, he “attempted to deliver a heavy metal container of coins that required a forklift to move” to attorneys for Fired Up Fabrications, the order states, but it was “physically impossible” to deliver.
A lawyer for JMF Enterprises did not respond to requests for comment. JMF Enterprise’s The Facebook page posted the video with news of the payment and included a GIF of an animated Donald J. Trump doing the Running Man dance.
Clifford Beem, a partner at Beem & Isley, who represented Fired Up Fabrications, said he was at the law firm’s downtown Denver office when a truck driver called to ask for the location of a freight elevator so he could deliver the coins.
“I’ve been a trial lawyer for 55 years and I’ve seen a lot of strange things, but this is new to me,” Mr. Beem said.
Mr. Beem said the office is in a 100-year-old building and can hold a maximum of 3,000 pounds in a freight elevator. The driver said the delivery was “well done,” 6,500 pounds, he said.
“It would knock our freight elevator right into the basement,” Mr. Beem said.
After a failed coin delivery attempt, as reported by CBS Colorado, JMF Enterprises refused to pay the settlement by check, arguing that the coins were legal tender, according to the judge’s order. On Oct. 23, Judge Findley ruled that payment must be made by check, certified bank check or any other method both parties agree to.
In the order, Judge Findley said that while coins are legal tender, paying such a large settlement in coins would reduce the settlement due to the time and expense required to accept it.
He said the photos showed coins were also removed from neatly organized boxes and thrown “loosely and haphazardly” into a metal container.
The judge ordered JMF Enterprises and Mr. Frank to pay additional fees related to the costs of extending the case and settling the coin payment.
Mr. Beem said his firm has filed for at least $8,000 in compensation “for the time we spent dealing with this coin issue and trying to resolve it.” The judge is reviewing the application.
In June, a federal judge in Georgia ordered the owner of an auto repair shop to pay nearly $40,000 in back wages and damages after he paid a former employee with about 91,500 fat pennies left in his driveway.