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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. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

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