With $2.5 million hanging in the balance, an unpaid $2 library fee prevented a lawsuit from moving forward. A Virginia lawyer, C. Kailani Memmer, waited to file a personal injury suit until just days before the two year statute of limitations expired on the case. Upon receipt of the paperwork, together with the $344 filing fee, the court clerk waited until the day the case expired to notify the lawyer that the fees had changed and they were $2 short. Memmer then mailed a check for the missing money that day, but it wasn’t received and processed until four days after the statute of limitations completely expired, rendering the case time-barred.
The Powhatan Circuit Court threw the case out, a ruling which was later supported by the Virginia Supreme Court. Basically, a suit isn’t completely filed until all the fees are paid in full. The law firm argued the fairness of such an action, but between the lateness of the filing and the method of making up the difference, they had plenty of opportunity to legally cross all their T’s and dot all the I’s, but did not do so. Further, they argued that the clerk did not explain that the case had not been fully filed, just that they were $2 short, and so the case ought to have been accepted.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the situation was entirely fair because state codes indicate that fees must be paid in their entirety in order for civil action cases to be filed. Therefore, it was correct for the Powhatan Circuit Court to dismiss the case, according to their Jan 30th opinion (Landini v. Bil-Jax, Inc.) and Above the Law (Joe Patrice, “Lawyer Botches $2 fee, Loses $2.5 Million Lawsuit”).