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Britt v. Einhorn

February 27, 2009

APRIL M. BRITT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD J. EINHORN, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Hughes, M.J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court upon the Motion of Plaintiff April Britt ("Plaintiff") to Add Delay/Prejudgment Interest and Costs to the Verdict/Judgment [dkt. entry no. 40], returnable February 17, 2009. Defendant Donald Einhorn ("Defendant") filed two separate oppositions to this Motion on January 20, 2009 and January 21, 2009. Plaintiff filed her reply brief on January 22, 2009.

II. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This matter arises from a motor vehicle accident involving Plaintiff and Defendant "that occurred on February 1, 2005 at approximately 6:48 p.m. at or near the intersection of Route 31 Southbound and Payne Road in Clinton Township, NJ." (Pl.'s Br. at 1.) The parties consented to the jurisdiction of Magistrate Judge John J. Hughes, to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. See [dkt. entry no. 19]. This matter was tried before a jury on January 6, 7 and 8, 2009 and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $19,389.09. On January 12, 2009, the Court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant in the aforesaid amount of $19,289.09. See [dkt. entry no.45].

A. Plaintiff's Arguments in Support of the Motion to Add Delay/Prejudgment Interest and Costs to the Verdict/Judgment

Plaintiff asserts that her "entitlement to delay damages is a matter of the applicable New Jersey law [because] State Rules of Civil Procedure on the subject are considered substantive in nature and govern the issue of delay damages in federal court in a diversity case." (Pl.'s Br. at 1-2.)Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that pre-judgment and post-judgment interest should be calculated pursuant to New Jersey Rule of Civil Practice 4:42-11. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff includes in her brief the following chart with the applicable interest rates:

POST-JUDGMENT AND PRE-JUDGMENT INTEREST RATES

20051.0% 20062.0% 20074.0% 20085.5% 20094.0%

Post-Judgment: Pursuant to R. 4:42-11(a)(ii), the annual post-judgment interest rate is equal to the average rate of return for the State of New Jersey Cash Management Fund for the preceding fiscal year, rounded off to the nearest one-half percent.

Pre-Judgment: Pursuant to R. 4:42-11(b), interest rates in tort actions after January 1, 1988 are the same as the postjudgment interest rates. Prior to January 1, 1988, the rate is 12% per annum.

Note: Effective September 1, 1996, if the judgment exceeds the monetary limit of the Special Civil Part (currently $15,000), 2% should be added to the above interest rate, pursuant to R.4:42-11(a)(iii).

Id. at 4.

Plaintiff argues that "[b]ecause the verdict was in excess of $15,000.00, the interest rates applicable in the charts are increased by 2%." Id. Plaintiff also argues that "[p]rejudgment interest is due from the date of the filing of the Complaint (12/5/2006), since the Complaint was filed more than six months after the cause of action accrued." Id. Plaintiff further argues that "[t]he total verdict before ...


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