Current mortgage interest rates in the United States are around 3%. The one-year LIBOR (London Interbank Offer Rate) is 0.33%. So if you can get a 10% interest rate as a lender, that’s pretty good.
Most people (even lawyers) do not normally think of plaintiffs in lawsuits as “lenders” or “creditors” but, in a way, they are.
That is, plaintiffs in lawsuits, in effect, are arguing, “You took something of value from me,” (my money, my liberty, my property, my health, my peace of mind, etc., etc.) and you owe me…
As such, the law (in Minnesota, at least) allows plaintiffs the possibility of collecting interest on their judgments, but “preverdict” (or “prejudgment”) and post-verdict (or “post-judgment”).
This week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an important ruling on when plaintiffs may recover preverdict interest.
In July, 2016, Mr. Patrick Anderson, driving an all-terrain vehicle, appears to have turned directly into the path of Mr. Eric Blehr’s car. Mr. Anderson was killed. Mr. Blehr was seriously injured. Mr. Blehr brought a claim against Mr. Anderson’s automobile insurer.
Mr. Blehr’s lawyers sent notice of Mr. Blehr’s claim to the insurer in January, 2017. They did not include a dollar amount of Mr. Blehr’s damages. (This is common for probably obvious reasons. For example, there might be on-going medical costs, which would be included in damages.)
At trial, sometime after August 2018, a jury found Mr. Anderson 75% at fault for the accident and Mr. Blehr 25% at fault. They awarded damages to Mr. Blehr of about $90,000.
Mr. Blehr’s lawyers sought and recovered 10% preverdict interest going back to their January, 2017 letter even though the letter did not include a claimed dollar amount for Mr. Blehr’s damages. Regardless, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed that the January, 2017 letter properly constituted “notice of a claim,” as required by the preverdict interest statute. The Court, in post-trial rulings, increased the amount of the award, and also awarded $21,935.87 in preverdict interest. (Obviously, this means that Mr. Blehr’s recovery was sharply increased by the award of prejudgment interest.)
This is very good news for Minnesota plaintiffs and their lawyers. This is not a case that is likely to catch the attention of “MSM” (mainstream media), even MMSM (Minnesota mainstream media). Rather, it is one of the many developments in the law that will go “beneath the radar” of most Minnesotans but could have far-reaching consequences for years to come (unless flipped on appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, of course, which we view as unlikely).