A judge this month upheld a Bloomington ordinance that allows precious metal dealers to melt down used jewelry immediately after purchase, rather than holding it for 14 days as directed in state law.
Last year, Whistleblower reported how an Apple Valley woman’s jewelry was stolen, sold to The Gold Guys in the Mall of America, and melted down before she could retrieve it.
This month, Hennepin District Judge Susan M. Robiner overturned conciliations court rulings that had awarded $4,220 in damages to a Lonsdale, Minn. couple and $5,410 to a St. Paul woman whose stolen jewelry had met the same fate.
Michael B. Lammers, the attorney for plaintiffs Bruce Vind, Laura Vind and Alicia Menchaca, argued that the company failed to comply with a 14-day holding period stipulated in state law.
Brett M. Larson, attorney for The Gold Guys, argued that the business was complying with city ordinance, which allowed for the immediate melting of jewelry as long as certain documentation requirements are met and a bond is in place.
Judge Robiner's decision hinged on the statute's wording that allows for a city's deviation from the state standard as long as ordinance is "more restrictive." Robiner ruled that the recordkeeping and bonding features of the city's ordinance satisfied that requirement.
"We will definitely appeal. We think the decision is wrong on several levels," Lammers said.
Larson provided a comment by e-mail:
"Judge Robiner clearly made the right decision. The Gold Guys are the last business that wants to be a target of thieves or unknowingly purchase stolen merchandise. We carefully follow the directives of regulators and exceed what is required of us. It is important to note that these cases make up less than .001% of Gold Guys’ transactions in the year they occurred. The purpose of the law is to assist in the prosecution of thieves and provide recovery for victims through the criminal justice system. The ordinance replaced the hold requirement with the record-keeping requirement at the suggestion of law enforcement officials who complained that the hold requirement was not helpful in prosecuting thieves or recovering stolen jewelry. The court correctly acknowledged that the plaintiffs benefitted from the record-keeping requirement, which made it possible for law enforcement to identify the thieves. In these cases, however, the plaintiffs chose to sue the Gold Guys instead of the thieves. In the first case the thieves were the plaintiffs’ daughter and her friends. In the second case the thief shared a prison cell with the plaintiff’s fiancé. Gold Guys will continue making efforts to avoid being targeted by these schemes in the future."
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