Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Another variant of that old chestnut, the Angry Debtor Who Pays The Bill With Bags of Pennies, is working its way through the Texas courts. Newly divorced Michael Powell, unhappy about being ordered to pay $1,000 in legal fees to lawyer Ken Tarlton, who drew up a trust agreement as part of the settlement, had 100,000 loose shiny copper coins delivered to Tarlton's office. Tarlton was not amused when the bank charged him $100 to turn the legal tender into actual money.
Tarlton sued Powell for the $100, plus his time (at $150 an hour) for taking the money to the bank. A trial judge held that the pennies were legal tender, so Powell wasn't actually in contempt. But under Texas courts' general power to fine people who are jerks, he ordered Powell to pay Tarlton's damages. An appeals court affirmed the decision, but Powell says he will appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.