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§49.14 Uninsured Motorist Cases – Postjudgment Interest

The Case: Ferguson v. Jenkins , No. E2007-02501-COA-R3-CV, 2008 WL 4949233 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 20, 2008).

The Basic Facts: "The issue in this case is whether the trial court erred in awarding interest against an uninsured motorist ("UM") insurer that resulted in an award in excess of the applicable UM coverage limits." 2008 WL 4949233 at *1.

The Bottom Line:

  • "Regarding the issue of postjudgment interest, however, the Malone court noted that 'there are fundamental differences between postjudgment interest and prejudgment interest.' Malone, 2003 WL 465668, at *4. Malone further stated as follows regarding postjudgment interest:.
    Postjudgment interest is mandatory. Vooys v. Turner, 49 S.W.3d 318, 322 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001). It is imposed by statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-14-121, 'on judgments.' Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-14-122 (2001) provides that such '[i]nterest shall be computed on every judgment . . . . (Emphasis added). Once the amount of the judgment has been established, it bears interest at the statutory rate of 10% 'except as may be otherwise provided or permitted by statute.' Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-14-121. If the exception does not apply, the statute makes the add-on of 10% interest mandatory; a court is without authority to relieve a debtor of its statutorily-mandated postjudgment interest obligation. Inman v. Inman, 840 S.W.2d 927, 931 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992); Bedwell v. Bedwell , 774 S.W.2d 953, 965 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989) . As the Goff opinion holds, postjudgment interest is 'in addition to the limits of coverage.' Goff [ v. Permanent Gen. Assurance Corp., No. 03A01-9405-CV-00185], 1994 WL 585771, at *2 [[Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 19, 1994]].
    Malone, 2003 WL 465668, at *5. In this case, the trial court awarded Mr. Ferguson $50,000, the amount of his UM coverage limit less the offsetting settlement with the tortfeasor, on December 15, 2006. Consumers paid $50,000 to Mr. Ferguson a month later on January 16, 2007. Because 'postjudgment interest is in addition to the limits of coverage,' Id., we affirm the trial court's award of postjudgment interest for one month, beginning on December 15, 2006." Id. at *4-*5.

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The foregoing is an excerpt from Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law, published by John A. Day, Civil Trial Specialist, Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, recipient of Best Lawyers in America recognition, Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, and Top 100 Tennessee Mid-South Super Lawyers designee. Read John’s full bio here.

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