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$23,500 in Coins to Pay a Settlement? Judge Says Keep the Change and Try Again.


Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters might be legal tender but more than 6,500 pounds of loose change is not a proper form of payment, a Colorado judge ruled last week after a defendant attempted to deliver $23,500 in coins to settle a legal dispute.

The judge, Joseph Findley, of Larimer County, said that the delivery 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 act.

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 did not get paid in full.

The companies agreed to the settlement in mediation on July 25 but the agreement did not specify the form of payment, according to Judge Findley’s order.

A month later, one day after the payment deadline, on a Friday night, JMF Enterprises attempted to make a “nighttime delivery” to Fired Up Fabrications but company officials rejected it because they at first thought it was a forklift being delivered, according to the judge’s order.

On Aug. 28, the following Monday, “an attempt was made to deliver a heavy metal container of coins that required a forklift to move” to lawyers for Fired Up Fabrications, the order said, but it was “physically impossible” to deliver.

A lawyer for JMF Enterprises did not respond to requests for comment. JMF Enterprise’s Facebook page posted a video with news coverage 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, which represented Fired Up Fabrications, said he was at the law firm’s downtown Denver office when a truck driver called to ask about the location of the 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 a new one for me,” Mr. Beem said.

Mr. Beem said that the office is in a 100-year-old building and could only hold a maximum of 3,000 pounds on its freight elevator. The driver said the delivery was “well over,” 6,500 pounds, he said.

“That would have crashed our freight elevator right down to the basement,” Mr. Beem said.

A lawyer said the delivery of more than 6,500 pounds of coins in payment of a legal settlement would “have crashed our freight elevator right down to the basement.”Credit…JMF, via Beem & Isley, P.C.

After the failed coin delivery attempt, which CBS Colorado reported, JMF Enterprises declined to pay the settlement by check, arguing that the coins were legal tender, the judge’s order said. Judge Findley ruled on Oct. 23 that the payment must be made in the form of a check, certified bank check or any other manner that both parties agreed to.

In the order, Judge Findley said that while coins were legal tender, paying such a large settlement in coins would reduce the settlement because of the time and expense required to accept it.

He said photographs showed that the coins had also been removed from neatly organized boxes and dumped “loosely and randomly” 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 dealing with the coin payment.

Mr. Beem said his firm submitted an application for at least $8,000 in fees “for the time we’ve spent dealing with this coin issue and trying to get it resolved.” 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 pay and damages after he paid a former employee’s wages with about 91,500 greasy pennies left in his driveway.



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