Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Man Pays $25 Bill with 2,500 Pennies, Gets Sued

Jason Robert West was upset over a $25 bill he received from a medical center in Utah so he made his payment using only pennies. But that stunt cost him $140 in addition to the bill.

The incident took place in May 2011 but in September 2012 West was convicted of disorderly conduct and ordered to pay a fine. The judge said the problem wasn't paying in pennies but rather the way that he made the payment.

Last June, West told reporters that he was calm when he paid in pennies, reports Business Insider. But the employees at the medical center and a patient who was in the waiting room disagree.

On the day of the penny payment, West came into the clinic and yelled at staff in the waiting room. He used abusive language towards the receptionist, according to a patient who was there at the time.

Then he said he was sorry for what he was about to do and reached into his bag, reports Utah KSL-TV.

West pulled a bowl of 25,000 pennies out of his bag and poured them onto the receptionist's desk. Witnesses said it was so loud it sounded like a gun had gone off in the office.

Staff didn't initially think it was serious enough to report to police but one of the doctors later reported the incident. Now over a year later, the legal system agreed that West's actions were out of line.

Working in a small business, there are rude customers that employees have to grin and bear. But sometimes rude behavior crosses the line into unlawful behavior. If that happens in your office you and your employees have a right to feel safe.

Companies generally have to accept cash payment in any form of legal currency but they don't have to take the side order of abuse.

The line between rude and against the law is not particularly clear but if it feels like an incident with a customer was outrageous, you might be right. Talking to your lawyer is a good way to find out if you can do something about it.

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