PROVO — Citing an unpaid court fee, the Utah Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former Miss Utah who says she was wrongly arrested on suspicion of stealing from the skin-care company Nu Skin.
The lawsuit against the city of Provo and its police was thrown out because lawyers for Elizabeth Craig missed paying a $300 court fee required for suing public agencies, the high court decided.
Craig's lawyers had argued that tossing out the case based on a technicality would set an unfair precedent for people who want to try to hold governments accountable for mistakes.
The attorneys didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.
The majority of justices sided with Provo attorneys who argued that detailed rules exist in part to protect taxpayer funded entities from frivolous lawsuits. Justice Christine Durham disagreed, writing that the rules shouldn't exempt the city from a law that gives people more time to sue.
The opinion handed down Friday reverses an appeals court decision reinstating the suit.
Assistant Provo City Attorney Gary Millward said the decision was gratifying and strikes a fair balance.
Craig, who was Miss Utah from 1991 to 1992, said she was legally selling donated surplus product from Provo-based Nu Skin and using part of the proceeds for charity.
Nu Skin employees were aware of the donated product, but others in the company saw the products for sale on eBay and set up a sting operation that led to her arrest, Craig said in the suit.
Theft and other charges were dropped in December 2010, but Craig says media interest in the case nevertheless derailed her budding career as a motivational speaker and cost her thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Provo says its police officers conducted an investigation and acted properly in the case. Nu Skin has called Craig's claims baseless.
A lawsuit filed against the city in federal court has been dismissed.