May 7, 1999
Ward Settles Emerald Case
Almost four years after it first began, the court case involving retailer and gemologist Fred Ward has been settled.
In June 1997 a jury in Washington, DC, Superior Court found Blue Planet Gems Inc., the company owned by Ward and Carol Tutera, liable for costs after a customer accused Ward of selling her a treated emerald ring without disclosure. The court awarded plaintiff Doree Lynn the cost of the ring ($14,500) plus triple damages. Ward filed an appeal in October 1997 and waited for the DC Court of Appeals to hear his case.
Ward says he decided to settle the case after he failed to respond to a court filing and a default judgment was entered against him in court. Default judgments generally mean the court orders the defendent to either settle with the plaintiff or pay the entire amount of the award. "Although we twice moved in court to have the default vacated, we were unsuccessful," Ward says in a release. "In the end, there was no choice but to settle or declare bankruptcy."
Ward countered during the trial that the 3.65-ct. emerald in question was clean with no fracture filling when he sold it to Lynn, and that when she returned to him after knocking the ring against a hard surface, it contained a large fracture but still no filling. Ward said when Lynn tried to replace the emerald through another jeweler several months later, the emerald contained a filling that one lab identified as Opticon.
- by Stacey King