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Walker v. Ford Motor Company.

2020 COA 164. No. 19CA1243.  Civil Litigation—Personal Injuries—Damages—Prejudgment and Postjudgment Interest—Appeal.

November 19, 2020

Walker was injured when his Ford Explorer was rear-ended by another vehicle. Walker sued the other driver for negligence. He also sued Ford, asserting that the driver’s seat in his vehicle was defective and contributed to his injuries. After Walker settled his claim against the other driver, he and Ford proceeded to trial. The jury returned a verdict of $2,915,971.20 in Walker’s favor, but the judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for a new trial. After the retrial, and nearly 10 years after the crash, the district court entered judgment against Ford in the amount of $2,929,881.20. It also awarded Walker prejudgment interest in the amount of $3.6 million, applying the statutory rate of 9% per annum for the entire 10 years.

On appeal, Ford contended that the district court erred by awarding interest at the statutory prejudgment rate from the inception of the case through the entry of judgment after the retrial. While Ford conceded that it owes interest on the judgment, it contended that its first appeal triggered application of the lower postjudgment rate for the remainder of the case.  Under CRS § 13-21-101, interest on personal injury damages accrues at a rate of 9% per annum from the date the injury occurred, through the date of satisfaction of the judgment, unless the judgment debtor appeals the judgment. Postjudgment interest accrues from the date of judgment through the date of satisfying the judgment. Here, when the mandate issued after the first verdict was overturned and a new trial was ordered, the first judgment ceased to exist. The effect of that reversal was to put the parties in the same posture they were in before the original judgment was entered on April 1, 2013. For purposes of CRS § 13-21-101, that position was prejudgment. Therefore, the district court’s ruling was consistent with the plain language of CRS § 13-21-101.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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