Plaintiffs sued Simon Property Group (Simon), the seller of gift cards valid at shopping malls owned by Simon, under the Georgia Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (DUPA), for imposing a dormancy fee and a one-year expiration date. (Plaintiffs could not rely on the Georgia gift card law since it was not yet effective when they filed suit.) In its decision affirming the dismissal of the complaint, the Georgia Supreme Court held that DUPA did not apply to the plaintiffs' claims, and that the terms of contracts between gift card issuers and owners did not impair the state's statutory right to custody over abandoned property. The court explained, "[i]n light of the purpose of [DUPA] to utilize unclaimed gift certificates for the benefit of all the people of the state," DUPA requires holders of unclaimed gift cards to turn the property over to the state, even if the owner's claim to the property has been terminated as a result of a contractual expiration date or if the gift card has "otherwise lost value pursuant to contractual terms."
Significantly, DUPA requires the holder to turn over to the state not just the remaining value, but rather "the price paid by the purchaser for the gift certificate." Thus, even if a $100 gift card has only $10 remaining, the seller must give the state the full $100. The Georgia statute, while extreme, is hardly unique. Several other states presume that the value of an abandoned gift card that is redeemable only for merchandise is 60% of the face value. Several more recent state unclaimed property laws; however, only require payment to the state of the remaining value of the card.