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COA: Insurance funds aren't a money judgment

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In a matter of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today that a summary judgment granting insurance policies isn't equivalent to a money judgment that would allow for 8 percent post-judgment interest.

In Bonita G. Hilliard, in her capacity as trustee of the H. David and Bonita G. Hilliard Living Trust v. Timothy E. Jacobs, No. 28A01-0904-CV-168, the trial court ordered Bonita Hilliard to pay post-judgment interest to Timothy Jacobs, who held several life insurance policies on her husband, H. David Hilliard. Jacobs and Hilliard got the policies on each other while they were co-owners of a business.

The company was eventually sold, but Jacobs refused to swap policies with Hilliard or terminate them. Hilliard sued Jacobs and won a judgment that Jacobs end the policies on Hilliard's life. Hilliard died while Jacobs appealed the decision. The Court of Appeals overturned the trial court and held Jacobs could retain the policies.

After years of more litigation between Bonita and Jacobs, and Bonita posting a $250,000 letter of credit as security pending appeal, the appellate court granted summary judgment in favor of Jacobs, granting him access to the $2.5 million in insurance funds. He received the money, plus 3 percent interest.

Jacobs sued Bonita, arguing he was entitled to 8 percent interest pursuant to Indiana Code Section 24-4.6-1-101 because the trial court order granting him possession of the policies was effectively a money judgment. The trial court agreed, granting him the 8 percent from the line of credit.

On appeal, Bonita argued the trial court order just transferred ownership of certain property to Jacobs but wasn't a judgment for money.

The appellate court couldn't find a case directly on point with this issue, but it examined several cases that addressed the nature of "judgment of money" and "money judgment." This research led Judges Paul Mathias and Margret Robb to determine the order wasn't a money judgment because the order didn't require the payment of a sum of money and didn't state the specific amount due. As such, post-judgment interest provisions of Section 101 don't apply, wrote Judge Mathias.

"The order did not require the payment of any specific amount due; it instead granted Jacobs ownership of the policies," he wrote.

The majority remanded the issue for further proceedings.

Judge Carr Darden dissented, writing the majority's analysis and result elevated form over substance. The subject of the dispute is certain insurance policies, which are contracts that have face values in specific sums.

"The court was asked to determine who rightfully owned the policies and was entitled to the proceeds. Therefore, I would find that such a determination, on these facts, constituted a money judgment in favor of the prevailing party," he wrote.

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  1. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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