Jody and Butch Morrison's distaste for attorneys is legend.
They amended the name of their business Crescent "No Lawyers" Bar & Grill after a dispute over their pool in the 1980s with a neighbor who was an attorney.
They have capitalized on the contempt, creating a playful menu of court-themed food, including lawyer fries and limbs, prison chef salad and the Al Capone gourmet sandwich. The posts on the bar's Facebook page are signed by "Judge Jody."
When the Morrisons discovered in 2010 that a trusted longtime employee was fleecing them, they turned to the legal system yes, attorneys for justice and a return of some of the tens of thousands of dollars in stolen money.
On the Crescent's marquee recently, the Morrisons acknowledged the good work of their lawyers with a message: "We welcome Tom Dvorak ... and Givens Pursley."
Dvorak and his firm represented the Morrisons in lawsuits against their accountant and U.S. Bank.
The suit against the bank, filed in November 2010, accused it of cashing 127 company checks labeled "for deposit only" for former employee Kristi L. "Cookie" Hurles.
In January, a federal jury agreed. The judgment was for $86,500 (the amount of the checks) plus $35,054 in interest. Dvorak said both sides lawyer fees would be in six figures.
The Morrisons hope this is the end of the three-year legal journey, though U.S. Bank could appeal the decision.
"If they keep this thing perpetuated, I don't know what they would win except for ringing up more attorneys fees on both sides," said Jody Morrison.
Boise attorney Tom Lloyd represented U.S. Bank. In response to a request forcomment, Minneapolis-based bank spokeswoman Teri Charest emailed a statement: "U.S. Bank thanks the women and men who served on the jury for their public service. While we are disappointed with the jurys verdict, we remain confident in our position and we intend to review all options available at this juncture, including appeal."
The Morrisons' May 2011 suit against accountant James P. Warr and Wilson, Harris Co., and a counterclaim filed in January of 2012, were dismissed in January by agreement of the parties. Citing a nondisclosure agreement, Dvorak and the Morrisons declined comment.
LOTTERY MACHINE AUDIT
Kristi Hurles worked at the Crescent for 20 years. A server, bartender and bookkeeper, her duties included stocking the ATM with cash, reconciling tills, and depositing daily cash receipts and company checks.
Hurles pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft in February 2011. In May of that year, she was sentenced to 14 years in prison, with eligibility for parole after two.
Hurles was ordered to pay $204,174.61, including attorney fees of $48,734.61.
"We have received $130 worth of restitution since shes been in prison," said Jody Morrison, noting that they received the money in just the past few weeks.
Hurles' parole hearing is in May.
Irregularities came to light in early 2010, when the Morrisons sought to have a lottery machine removed.
"We didnt think we were making money on it," Jody Morrison said, but lottery officials said the bar was a high-selling location. A full investigation was launched.
Prosecutors said Hurles pocketed game money and cashed company checks that should have been deposited between 2005 and 2010. That was the basis of the suit against U.S. Bank.
"U.S. Bank failed to exercise the requisite degree of care and was thereby negligent," according to the suit.
The checks were written payable to "cash" but stamped "For Deposit Only Deljack, Inc.-Payroll Account" or "For Deposit Only Deljack, Inc." Hurles was not a signatory on the business accounts.
In a 31-page decision last September, U.S. Judge Edward J. Lodge denied motions by both parties for summary judgment and said a jury would have to answer the key question: Did Hurles have express or implied authority to cash the checks? After a four-day trial, the jurys answer to both those questions was no.
'FOR DEPOSIT ONLY' MEANS JUST THAT
How often do banks cash checks that bear "for deposit only?" Seldom.
As part of the Uniform Commercial Code, Idaho law requires banks to heed such restrictions, or they become liable.
The Boise office of the Better Business Bureau has no recorded complaints about banks cashing "for deposit only" checks, said BBB spokesman Robb Hicken. Its not an issue that has bubbled up among the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerces 1,800 members, spokeswoman Caroline Merritt said.
Charest said she couldnt comment on the specifics of the Crescent case, but she said U.S. Banks endorsement policy is "consistent with Idaho law."
The Morrisons have depleted their savings and one of their IRAs keeping their business open. They have 30 full- and part-time employees.
They still have an ATM machine but no longer own and operate it. The Lottery Commission provided the Morrisons with a spreadsheet to help them keep track of games and payouts.
"You dont trust anybody. You check things," Jody Morrison said. "If something comes up weird one day, you think, 'Oh, my God, its happening again.' "
Katy Moeller: 377-6413