Oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his now ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall – whose divorce we have written about before – were involved in one of the largest and nastiest divorces in US history. Just last week, Mr. Hamm sent Ms. Arnall a personal check for $975 million in full payment of the cash award she received from the divorce court. According to Reuters – and amazingly for us non-billionaire types – Ms. Arnall rejected the check because she was afraid that cashing it would harm her chances of securing a better judgment after an appeal.

As litigators, we know that collecting on a judgment is often more difficult than securing it in the first place. So when should any plaintiff turn down a check paying a court judgment in full? Only when (a) they have a truly outstanding claim that will entitle them to a great deal more money than is offered, and (b) they know with certainty that they can collect against their target. It is a rare case where rejecting full payment of a judgment is a wise move, and a rare client with the fortitude to make that call.

In the end, and as Mr. Hamm’s personal fortune dropped along with oil prices, it looks like Ms. Arnall thought better of her initial decision and cashed the check, very likely settling the case.

Settling a case is always a judgment call that calls for collaboration between an attorney and their client and a clear-eyed weighing of the risks and rewards involved. But some cases are easier than others. Our personal opinion on when you should turn down a billion dollars in cash in full payment of a court’s judgment? You shouldn’t.

Previous Tilting Articles: Divorce – Impacting Your Meddlin Hands Partners!; Protecting your Business from a Lack of “Wedded Bliss”;

TAGS: Business, settlement.

KEYWORDS: Business divorce, divorce, company agreement, operating agreement, shareholders agreement, buy-sell agreement, judgment, settlement.

 

  • Chris Sharp

    maybe she reconsidered after she asked her counsel if he would split the loss in half with her if she recovered less?