Ackerman v. Power Equipment Co.

Decision Date14 July 1994
Docket NumberNo. 93CA1011,93CA1011
Citation881 P.2d 451
PartiesDale ACKERMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. POWER EQUIPMENT COMPANY and VME Americas, Inc., Defendants-Appellees. . III
CourtColorado Court of Appeals

Leventhal & Bogue, P.C., Bruce J. Kaye, Denver, for plaintiff-appellant.

Wilcox & Ogden, P.C., Ralph Ogden, Denver, for amicus curiae The CO Trial Lawyers Ass'n.

The Oldham Law Firm, Michael E. Oldham, Heather Fox Vickles, Englewood, for defendants-appellees.

Opinion by Judge JONES.

In this personal injury suit, plaintiff, Dale Ackerman, appeals the trial court's calculation of interest under § 13-21-101, C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6A), after the earlier appeal of the judgment by the defendants, Power Equipment Co., and VME Americas, Inc. We affirm.

Plaintiff suffered a personal injury on March 20, 1987, filed a personal injury suit against defendants on March 16, 1989, and received a jury verdict for $1,308,859.32 on August 16, 1990. After adding prejudgment interest to the award, calculated at 9% per annum, determined in accordance with § 13-21-101(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6A), the trial court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff for $1,745,504.51.

Defendants appealed and the judgment was affirmed by this court. Ackerman v Power Equipment Co. (Colo.App. No. 91CA0118, July 2, 1992) (not selected for official publication). Following denial of defendants' petition for a writ of certiorari, defendants moved for recalculation of interest pursuant to § 13-21-101.

Over plaintiff's objections, the trial court ruled that the statute unambiguously required a recalculation of the damage amount from the date the action accrued, even though the recalculated interest rates for 1987 and 1988 were below the fixed 9% interest plaintiff would have received on his damage award had the defendants not appealed the judgment.

Section 13-21-101 governs the amount of interest courts must add to damage awards in a personal injury suit. In the absence of an appeal, § 13-21-101 provides that interest on a damage award is to be calculated at a fixed rate of 9% per annum, measured from the date the action accrued until the date the judgment is satisfied. In dispute are the provisions of § 13-21-101 that require the trial court to recalculate the interest based on a variable rate in cases in which the judgment debtor has appealed the judgment.

Plaintiff contends that, in order to fulfill the legislative intent of discouraging judgment debtor appeals, § 13-21-101 should not be applied literally but should be read to mandate a 9% interest rate floor. Thus, he maintains that, following an appeal, interest should be recalculated at either the variable interest rate set by the secretary of state or at the rate of 9% per annum, whichever is higher. Alternatively, plaintiff urges, for the first time on appeal, that interest should be recalculated with prejudgment interest set at the fixed 9% rate and postjudgment interest at the variable rate. We disagree with both interpretations. We hold that § 13-21-101 is clear and unambiguous in its requirement that both prejudgment and postjudgment interest is to be recalculated at the variable rates in the event of an appeal.

In 1982, the General Assembly amended § 13-21-101 to apply a variable market rate of interest if the judgment is appealed by the judgment debtor. In relevant part, the statute provides:

(1) ... On and after January 1, 1983, if a judgment for money in an action brought to recover damages for personal injuries is appealed by the judgment debtor, interest, whether prejudgment or post judgment, shall be calculated on such sum at the rate set forth in subsections (3) and (4) of this section from the date the action accrued....

(2)(a) If a judgment for money in an action brought to recover damages for personal injuries is appealed by a judgment debtor and the judgment is affirmed, interest, as set out in subsections (3) and (4) of this section, shall be payable from the date the action accrued until satisfaction of the judgment. (emphasis added)

Sections 13-21-101(3) and 13-21-101(4), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6A) provide for a variable interest rate to be set each year by the secretary of state at two percentage points higher than the then current federal discount rate. When these amendments were adopted in 1982, the variable rate prescribed by § 13-21-101(3) was significantly higher than 9%. However, the rate dropped below 9% in 1987 and 1988 and was at 6% and 5% in 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Plaintiff claims that, at the time the statute was amended, the General Assembly did not contemplate interest rates falling below 9%. He asserts that that situation would encourage meritless appeals because the interest rate on the appealed judgment would be less than the fixed 9% rate for nonappealed judgments.

When a statute is plain and unambiguous on its...

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8 cases
  • Nieto v. State
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • 2 Octubre 1997
    ...to legislative history or other means to determine intent is not only unnecessary, it is inappropriate. See Ackerman v. Power Equipment Co., 881 P.2d 451 (Colo.App.1994); Frank v. Charnes, 43 Colo.App. 217, 600 P.2d 124 (1979); see also Dove Valley Business Park Associates v. Board of Count......
  • Ford Motor Co. v. Forrest Walker
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • 21 Junio 2022
    ...interest "only to judgments which the judgment debtor appeals." Rodriguez, 914 P.2d at 928 ; see also Ackerman v. Power Equip. Co., 881 P.2d 451, 452 (Colo. App. 1994) ("In 1982, the General Assembly amended § 13-21-101 to apply a variable market rate of interest if the judgment is appealed......
  • Adams v. Corrections Corp. of America
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • 29 Mayo 2008
    ...(considering legislative history as further support for its conclusion based on plain language of statute); Ackerman v. Power Equipment Co., 881 P.2d 451, 452 (Colo.App.1994) (having found statute unambiguous on its face, court would nevertheless consider legislative history "solely to answ......
  • Rodriguez v. Schutt
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • 15 Abril 1996
    ...and postjudgment interest on personal injury money judgments which the judgment debtor does appeal. 2 See Ackerman v. Power Equip. Co., 881 P.2d 451, 452-53 (Colo.App.1994); John C. Tredennick, Jr. & Gregory B. Cairns, Collecting Pre- and Post-Judgment Interest in Colorado: A Primer, 15 Col......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Consistency in Statutory Interpretation
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Lawyer No. 38-6, June 2009
    • Invalid date
    ...183-84 (Colo. 1966); Adams v. Corrections Corp. of America, 187 P.3d 1190, 1194 (Colo.App. 2008). 34. Ackerman v. Power Equipment Co., 881 P.2d 451, 452 (Colo.App. 1994); Elliott Elec. Supply Co., Inc. v. Adolfson & Peterson, Inc., 765 P.2d 1079, 1081 (Colo.App. 1988). 35. Bill Boom, Inc., ......

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