What a Difference a Penny Can Make

Our December 10, 2010 “There Oughtta Be a Law” post suggested that dollar amounts  should be rounded up or down to the nearest 10 cents to eliminate pennies and nickels. Never did we imagine that passage of such a law could have impacted a lawsuit.

Forced to dismiss a family’s lawsuit for bodily injury insurance proceeds following an accident in which two family members died,  the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals observed  in Freeeland v. Liberty Mutual, decided on February 4, 2011,”The penny is the most easily neglected piece of U.S. currency… The amount in controversy in this declaratory judgment action is exactly one penny short of the jurisdictional minimum in the federal courts.”

The court recognized that dismissing the case was “painfully inefficient” but determined that it had no choice given the applicable statutory language.  Sometimes, the law just doesn’t make sense.