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Cianchette v. Cianchette

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

September 24, 2019

TUCKER CIANCHETTE, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
ERIC CIANCHETTE, et al., Defendants

          ORDER

          THOMAS D. WARREN JUSTICE.

         Before the court is plaintiffs' motion to determine the date at which post-judgment interest began to accrue.

         On March 5, 2018 the court entered a judgment against defendants bused on the jury verdict but expressly noted that it was not a final judgment because judgment had not entered on defendants' equitable counterclaim for disassociation. In that judgment the court also specified that "post-judgment interest shall run from the entry of final judgment at 7.76%."

         On March 15, 2013 the court entered judgment for plaintiff Tucker Cianchette dismissing defendants' counterclaim for disassociation, stating, "This represents final judgment on all the claims in this case."

         On March 19, 2018 defendants filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law on certain of plaintiffs' claims pursuant to M.R.Civ.P. 50(b) and for a new trial as to all claims pursuant to M.R.Civ.P. 59(a). That motion was denied in an order tiled on June 12, 2018, and defendants thereafter appealed.

         On June 4, 2019 the Law Court affirmed the judgment. Cianchette v. Cianchette, 2019 ME 87.

         On July 3, 2019 defendants paid the judgment amounts with interest calculated on the basis that prejudgment interest stopped and post-judgment interest began on June 12, 2018 - the date that the court denied defendants' post-judgment motion.

         Plaintiffs contend instead that post-judgment interest began to run on March 5 or March 15, 2018, Because of the size of the judgment in this case, the difference in whether post-judgment interest started in March or in June is not insignificant.

         Jurisdiction

         At the outset, defendants argue that since final judgment was entered more than a year ago, the court no longer has jurisdiction to resolve the issue of when post-judgment interest begins to run.

         There is authority for the proposition that the court has continuing jurisdiction to resolve issues relating to the interpretation of its judgments. E.g., Chamberlain v. Harriman, 2017 ME 127 ¶ 13, 165 A.3d 351, Although that has generally been limited to allowing clarification when judgments are ambiguous, the March 5 judgment specified that post-judgment interest "shall run from the entry of final judgment," and the parties are now disputing the meaning of that term. As a result, this case fits within the court's continuing jurisdiction to resolve ambiguities in the judgment.

         Even in the absence of ambiguity, continuing jurisdiction would exist to rule on disputes about pre- and post-judgment interest arising after an appeal. If the court were to decline to hear the pending motion, plaintiffs could then seek a writ of execution including the post-judgment interest that they contend has not been paid.[1] The existing dispute would then have to be resolved by the court in determining the commencement of post-judgment interest for purposes of the writ of execution.

         Commencement of Post-Judgment Interest

         Under the applicable statute, "post-judgment interest accrues from and after the date of entry of judgment and includes the period of any appeal." 14 M.R.S. § 1602-C(2). Defendants essentially argue that even though judgment was entered in March, the court should ignore the statutory language and rule that post-judgment interest only accrues from the denial of defendants' post-judgment motion in June. The court rejects that view for the reasons sets forth in the First Circuit's decision in Marsh ...


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