ILNews

COA: Insurance funds aren't a money judgment

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

ADVERTISEMENT