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Florida Appeals Court Addresses the Question of Interest on a Judgment

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Losing a loved one is devastating in any circumstances, but it can be even worse when the loss occurs due to someone else’s negligence. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our skilled Miami wrongful death attorneys understand how to navigate these cases with the utmost compassion and competence. You can rest assured we will fight vigorously to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

In Shoemaker v. Sliger, a Florida appellate court recently reversed a trial court’s ruling that when the amount of judgment is modified on appeal, Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.340(c) mandates post-trial interest to accrue from the date of the verdict, rather than from the date of the original judgment.

In 2011, a jury returned a verdict of over $7 million in a medical malpractice claim, concluding that Dr. James R. Shoemaker was 40 percent at fault for Stephen Sliger’s death. Shoemaker filed a motion to limit the non-economic damages in the case, arguing that under 766.118(2) of the Florida Statutes (2011), it would be appropriate to limit the non-economic damages to a total of $500,000. Sliger’s estate responded by claiming that the statute in question violated clauses of both the Florida and the U.S. constitutions, and thus it could not be enforced.

Ultimately, the trial court entered a final judgment against Shoemaker for over $1 million, which indicated his level of fault in the lawsuit, and it applied section 766.118’s cap on non-economic damages. Both parties appealed.

The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The Florida Supreme Court later determined that the cap was unconstitutional, which caused the court of appeals to reverse its prior ruling upholding the cap. Sliger’s estate filed a motion to award interest from the date of the verdict two and a half years before. Shoemaker opposed the motion, saying that the date for calculating when the interest began was wrong.

The court of appeals explained that in normal situations, the interest on a judgment begins to accrue on the date that the trial court enters the judgment denoting the amount of the monetary award. However, if a monetary judgment is not entered, and an appeal begins and ends with a reversal, Florida rule 9.340(c) sets the post-trial interest date as the date of the judgment issued by the court of appeal rather than the date of the verdict. Thus, the court of appeals noted that to employ rule 9.340(c) to set an earlier start date for interest accrual would be to unjustly punish defendants.

This case is important because it highlights the issues that can arise when it comes to calculating damages.

At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we have helped many South Florida victims handle their medical malpractice claims. We will take the time to diligently analyze the facts of your case and come up with a legal strategy accordingly. We offer every prospective client a free, initial consultation. For more information, do not hesitate to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online today.

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