The Detroit Free Press reported on Wednesday that a man has been fined $5,001 for putting urine in a co-worker's coffee. A Culpeper, Virginia jury found James Carroll Butler guilty of the crime committed five years ago. The verdict came in a lawsuit filed by Michael Utz against Butler. The jury awarded Utz $1 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in punitive damages.
Court records show that Butler admitted to putting urine in Utz's coffee pot when both men worked for the city of Culpeper. He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to a year in jail, but eleven months were suspended.
The Huffington Post reports that Butler, 53, worked for the city’s waste water plant, and he didn’t like Utz, a mechanic in the environmental services department. Most newspapers say Butler peed into Utz's coffee cup; however, court records show that Butler collected urine from the toilet and poured it into Utz’s coffee pot and waited for Utz to drink the coffee that he had tainted with urine.
According to court records, Utz saw the coffee pot with the urine in it before he made coffee. He recognized the odor in the coffee pot to be urine. Before drinking any of it, he reported it to his supervisor, who then had the coffee pot tested in a lab. Results showed the pot contained not only urine but also fecal matter. This indicates that Utz didn't actually drink the urine-laced coffee.
Butler delivered a letter to the court admitting a shameful act he had committed. The letter read in part, “I done something I am very much ashamed of to a co-worker for [reasons, which are] stress-related [and] things going on in my life on and off the job. I am very much ashamed of my stupid and childlike behavior.”
Butler was found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor. Utz sued for $728,000 in damages. Even though he received only $5,001, Utz’s attorney, Michael Shaman, said his client was happy with the verdict.