United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MICHAEL A. SHIPP MICHAEL A. SHIPP UNITED STATES DISTRICT
matter comes before the court on Plaintiffs Tom's
Confectionery Group ("Toms") and Tryg
Insurance's ("Tryg") (collectively,
"Plaintiffs") motion for prejudgment interest. (ECF
No. 54.) Defendant C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. ("CHRW
') filed opposition (ECF No. 55) and Plaintiffs replied
(ECF No. 56). The Court has carefully considered the
parties' submissions and decides this matter without oral
argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 78.1. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court grants Plaintiffs' motion and
awards prejudgment interest m the amount of $3, 849.20.
4, 2017, the Court held a one-day bench trial to address the
issue of CHRW's liability under the Carmack Amendment. On
November 28, 2017, the Court entered an Opinion and Final
Judgment finding CHRW liable and awarding $124, 034.31 to
Plaintiffs. (Nov. 28, 2017 Op., ECF No. 52.) On the same
date, the Court entered final default judgment against
non-appearing Defendant National Refrigerated Trucking
("NRT"). (ECF No. 51.) The Court found CHRW and NRT
jointly and severally liable for the damages amount. (J.
Order ¶ 2, ECF No. 53.) The Court also permitted
Plaintiffs to submit proposed calculations regarding
prejudgment interest. (Id. at ¶ 3.) The Court
now considers this issue.
determination of prejudgment interest is not governed by
statute. A district court has discretion in deciding the
appropriate amount of prejudgment interest, but may look to
the governing statute for postjudgment interest where
appropriate. Sun Ship, Inc. v. Matson Navigation
Co., 785 F.2d 59, 63 (3d Cir. 1986) (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 1961). Plaintiffs argue that the Court should use the
postjudgment interest formula set out in 28 U.S.C. §
1961, which calculates interest at a rate equal to the weekly
average one-year constant maturity treasury yield
("CMT"). The CMT is published weekly by the Board
of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and is the average
yield of a range of Treasury securities, adjusted to the
equivalent of a one-year maturity. "[T]he 52-week
Treasury bill rate has been found by Congress and by the
marketplace to be a suitable approximation of the available
return for a typical risk-free investment." Davis v.
Rutgers Casualty Ins. Co., 964 F.Supp. 560, 576 (D.N.J.
1997). As such, Plaintiffs ask the Court to apply the CMT
rate of 1.75 %,  the rate published during the calendar
week preceding the date of the judgment. Such a calculation
would result in $9, 586.82 in prejudgment interest. In
contrast, Defendant asks the Court to use its discretion, as
allowed in Sun Ship, and reduce the interest fees
based on the fluctuating federal interest rates during the
period of loss.
Court declines to adopt Plaintiffs' calculation. The
applicable CMT rate at the time of judgment was much higher
than the average interest rate over the fifty-three-month
period m question. While the Court recognizes the advantage
of using the CMT rate as a method of calculating prejudgment
interest, here, using one rate for the entire period would be
an unfair windfall to Plaintiffs. In balancing these
equitable considerations, the Court will award prejudgment
interest based on the CMT rate, adjusted to fairly reflect
the entire time-period at issue.
Eastern District of Pennsylvania followed a similar approach
in O'Neill v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., 108
F.Supp.2d 443, 446 (E.D. Pa. 2000 . In O'Neill,
following a jury verdict for the plaintiff in an employment
action, the court calculated prejudgment interest on awarded
back pay. (Id.) The court applied the corresponding
CMT rate for each individual year of awarded back pay,
instead of using one rate for the entire period.
(Id.) The Court finds this method equitable in the
current situation. The Court will, therefore, use the CMT
rate for calculating the prejudgment interest, but calculate
the prejudgment interest on a yearly basis.
satisfy the goal of making Plaintiffs whole while balancing
the interest of fairness, the Court will calculate the CMT
rate from the date of judgment-November 28, 2017-using the
CMT rate from the week preceding the date of judgment only
for the year of loss it reflects. Calculating the CMT rate
over the span of approximately four years thus results in a
prejudgment interest of $3, 849.20 as follows:
Prejudgment Interest Amount
July 17, 2013-November 28, 2013
November 29, 2013 - November 28, 2014
November 29, 2014 - November 28, 2015
November 29, 2015 - November 28, 2016
November 29, 2016 - November 28, 2017
IT IS on this 30th day of August 2018, ORDERED that:
1. Defendants are jointly and severally liable for
prejudgment interest in the amount of$3, 849.20.
2. The Clerk shall close this matter.
 Neither party contests that
prejudgment interest is appropriate. Determining whether to
award prejudgment interest is in the sole discretion of the
District Court. Feather v. United Mine Workers, 711
F.2d 530, 540 (3d Cir. 1983). In a federal question
jurisdiction case, such as this, the Court considers:
"(1) whether the claimant has been less than diligent in
prosecuting the action; (2) whether the defendant has been
unjustly enriched; (3) whether an award would be
compensatory; and (4) whether countervailing equitable
considerations militate against a surcharge." M (citing
Neddv. United Mine Workers of Amer., 488 F.Supp.
1208, 1219-20 (M.D. Pa. 1980)). An award of prejudgment
interest serves to account for the possible loss that monies
owed would have presumably earned. Cooper Distrib. Co.,
Inc. v. Amana Refrigeration, Inc.,63 F.3d ...