Metzler v. BCI Coca Cola Bottling (CA2 5/11/12)

An interesting little case on pre-judgment interest under Rule 68.

Metzler won a jury verdict in excess of an Offer of Judgment she had made. Per Rule 68, the trial court ordered pre-judgment interest from the date of the offer to the date of the judgment. The court then, on BCI’s motion, ordered a new trial, on liability only, but this was reversed on appeal and the case remanded for the entry of judgment. On remand, the following question arose: does the pre-judgment interest run until the date of the original judgment or until the date of the judgment after remand? Until the original judgment, ruled the trial court; Metzler appealed.

The Court of Appeals reverses. The order granting a new trial vacated the original judgment. The trial court had thought it still a valid judgment because BCI had purported to appeal from it; Technically, though, the appeal from an order for new trial, the court indicates, is from that order itself, not from the judgment; that is why 12-2101 makes a new trial order appealable. The court says that this conclusion is also consistent with the Rule’s purpose of encouraging settlement.

The court vacates the judgment, remands for the entry of another new one, and points out that pre-judgment interest will run until that one is entered. This apparently means that the new interest statute will apply, so this might be a Pyrrhic victory.

(link to opinion)