The Court of Appeals, in Pac-Van v. Wekiva Falls Resort (pdf) decided one reversing a trial court in a case where it’s not entirely clear what the trial court’s thought process might have been. It has to do with post-judgment interest. In civil matters, when a money judgment is entered against a defendant, the judgment accrues interest at 8% per year. IC 24-4.6-1-101 provides that “interest on judgments for money whenever rendered shall be from the date of the return of the verdict or finding of the court until satisfaction at . . . an annual rate of eight percent (8%)[.]”
In this case, there were two judgments – one on the substantive issues and one as an award of attorney fees.
Jury verdict 4/15/11 in the amount of $102,285. Defendant paid $102,285 on 6/2/11.
Attorney fee award 7/19/11 in the amount of $123,379. Defendant paid $123,379 on 8/22/11.
The plaintiff filed a petition for post-judgment interest. Defendant complained that it had already satisfied the judgment. The court, on January 23, 2012, ruled that the defendant owed post judgment interest on the full amounts as if they had not been paid through January 23, 2012. The court of appeals said, no, the defendant has to get credit for payments when they are made. Interest on the jury verdict was for the 48 days between April 15 and June 2. (48/365 * .08 * $102,285) = $1,076 and not the $6,368.27 awarded by the trial court through January 23, 2012. A similar calculation was made on the attorney fee award.
A lot of times, I am trying to collect from judgment debtors who find the entire concept of post-judgment interest terribly unfair. I try to explain it to them by saying, if I owed you a hundred dollars, would you rather have a hundred dollars today, or a hundred dollars nine months from now.” Usually it dawns on them that having the money today is more desirable than having to wait around for it, and it’s not entirely unreasonable that someone should get paid for having to wait around to get paid what’s owed them.