Ford Motor Co. v. Walker.
2022 CO 32. No. 20SC947. Personal Injury Judgment Debtor—Interest on Damages—Statutory Interpretation—CRS § 13-21-101—Statutorily Fixed 9% Interest Rate—Market-Based Postjudgment Interest Rate—Appealed Judgment—Final Judgment.
June 21, 2022
In this product liability case, the Supreme Court determined that CRS § 13-21-101 (“Interest on damages”) is ambiguous. Relying on the General Assembly’s intent, as reflected in the statute’s legislative history, the Court held that when a personal injury judgment debtor successfully appeals the judgment and obtains a new trial but ultimately incurs another money judgment at that new trial, the interest between the date of the appealed judgment and the date the final judgment is satisfied must be calculated using the marketbased rate, not the statutorily fixed rate of 9%.
In so doing, the Court clarified that whenever the judgment debtor appeals the judgment, the interest rate switches from 9% to the marketbased rate. The appeal’s outcome is of no consequence; the filing of any appeal of the judgment by the judgment debtor triggers the shift in interest rate. This includes a situation where, as here, the judgment debtor appeals the judgment, the judgment is reversed with instructions to hold a new trial, and the judgment debtor incurs a new money judgment at the retrial.
In sum, if the judgment debtor doesn’t appeal the judgment, the 9% interest rate applies from accrual of the claim through satisfaction of the final judgment. But if the judgment debtor appeals the judgment, then (1) the 9% interest rate applies from accrual of the claim through the date of the appealed judgment, and (2) the market-based postjudgment interest rate applies from the date of the appealed judgment through satisfaction of the final judgment.
Because the Court of Appeals concluded otherwise, the Court reversed and remanded the matter for recalculation of interest on the sum to be paid.