A ring finder sued its owner when she got arrested instead of rewarded for turning in the $20,000 piece of jewelry. Bonnie Land was in a tanning salon when she noticed a beautiful yellow diamond ring hanging on the hook behind the door of the changing room while she was at the Tan Company in St. Charles getting a spray tan, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The ring's owner, Melisa Boucek had used the room previously. She hung the ring on the hook for safekeeping and promptly forgot it.
Although the incident took place on May 9, 2012, it didn't become a cautionary tale on the Internet until Jan. 7, 2013 when the strange story became one of the most popular topics on the web. It's a perfect example of the old adage "No good deed goes unpunished." Instead of keeping the magnificent ring for herself, Land eventually turned it in. That's where the problem lies, in the word "eventually."
Land said she placed the ring in her coat pocket after discovering it, and she promptly forgot about it just like the original owner did when she forgot the expensive jewelry on the hook. She carried the ring home in her pocket and didn't think about it for weeks, not until she discovered it in the pocket of the jacket she had been wearing during her visit to the Tan Company earlier in the month. By then, so much time had passed that she didn't know what to do with the ring. In the meantime, the ring's disappearance had been reported to the police, who questioned employees and customers about the jewelry, but no one ever questioned Land.
Fast forward to Land's next visit to the tanning salon. She spotted a picture of the ring on a sign that offered a $3,000 reward. It seemed like the perfect time to turn in the ring. Land's roommate helped her arrange a meeting with Boucek's owner at a jewelry store. That's where police swarmed in and arrested her. Land was charged with stealing, but those charges were ultimately deferred and will expire when the statute of limitations runs out three years from now.
So, why did the ring's finder sue the owner? The answer is breach of contract. Not only was she arrested, but she was not rewarded per the terms on the sign in the tanning salon. She walked away without a criminal record, but she also walked away without the promised $3,000. She is also seeking compensation for fraud and damages. The total amount is in excess of $66,500.
Should a ring finder sue the owner if she doesn't receive a reward? Was it unfair for Land to be arrested after doing the right thing, even if there was a significant delay? Your comments are welcome.
For reference, here is the applicable statute concerning found items. From Missouri Revised Statutes:
"If any person finds any money, goods, right in action, or other personal property, or valuable thing whatever, of the value of ten dollars or more, the owner of which is unknown, he shall, within ten days, make an affidavit before some judge of the circuit court of the county, other than a municipal judge, stating when and where he found the same, that the owner is unknown to him, and that he has not secreted, withheld or disposed of any part thereof. "