Hoker Trucking, LLC and Linda L. Phillips, Appellants-Defendants,
Pamela K. Robbins, as Administratrix of the Estate of Mike Douglas Robbins, Deceased, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Wayne Superior Court. The Honorable Charles K. Todd,
Jr., Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 89D01-1212-CT-56.
FOR APPELLANT: Michael T. Terwilliger, Whitten Law Office,
FOR APPELLEE: Frederick W. Crow, Young & Young, Indianapolis,
Judge. Bailey, J. and Barnes, J. concur.
In our original opinion, we concluded that based on SCI
Propane v. Frederick, 39 N.E.3d 675 (Ind. 2015), "
Robbins, as the surviving spouse, was not entitled to recover
attorneys' fees and prejudgment interest as compensable
damages under the GWDS." See Hoker
Trucking, LLC v. Robbins, 43 N.E.3d 677, (Ind.Ct.App.
Sept. 15, 2015). Robbins has now filed a petition for
rehearing in which she contends that the prejudgment interest
was not awarded on the attorneys' fees, as we alluded to
in our opinion, but on the $6,000,000.00 jury verdict. As
such, she asserts SCI Propane is not applicable, and
instead we should have followed the directives of the
prejudgment interest statute, I.C. Ch. 34-51-4, which notes
in section 1 that prejudgment interest " applies to any
civil action arising out of tortious conduct." We agree.
Thus, we grant rehearing for the limited purpose of
addressing the prejudgment interest award; in all other
respects, we affirm our original opinion.
Our review of the record indicates that the trial court
ordered prejudgment interest on the jury verdict only and not
on the award of attorneys' fees. Applying the prejudgment
interest statute, the trial court noted that although Hoker
Trucking's offer met the requirements of I.C. §
34-51-4-6, it did not meet the requirements of I.C. §
34-51-4-5 [the amount of the offer was less than 2/3 of the
amount of the judgment award] and thus Hoker Trucking was
responsible for the payment of prejudgment interest on the
jury verdict. Accordingly, the trial court awarded
prejudgment interest at a rate of 8% on the jury award from
June 21, 2013 through October 5, 2014, for a total amount of
The prejudgment interest statute permits the trial court to
grant prejudgment interest, but does not require an award of
prejudgment interest. See I.C. 34-51-4-7;
Alsheik v. Guerrero, 979 N.E.2d 151, 155 (Ind. 2012)
(in which Guerrero sought prejudgment interest in a medical
malpractice suit). We review a trial court's ruling on a
motion for prejudgment interest under the prejudgment
interest statute for an abuse of discretion. Id.
Thus, the prejudgment interest statute grants the trial court
broad discretion to determine when an award of prejudgment
interest is warranted. Id. Accordingly, the trial
court abuses its discretion if it misinterprets the law, or
if it does not " support its determination with findings
consistent with the statute." Id. (citing
Kosarko v. Padula, 979 N.E.2d 144, 150 (Ind. 2012)).
Here, the trial court awarded prejudgment interest in
accordance with the prejudgment interest statute and
supported its decision as follows:
In this cause, [Robbins] provided settlement demand letters
on March 22, 2013 and December 19, 2013, which demanded
payment of Six Million Dollars ($6,000,000.00), which was the
amount of the ultimate jury verdict. Further, said demand
letters met other relevant portions related to I.C. §
34-51-4-6. Additionally, [Hoker Trucking] made no offer that
met the requirements related to I.C. § 34-51-4-5.
Additionally, [Hoker Trucking] ultimately conceded full
liability in this cause, and the trial held in this cause was
only on the issue of damages. The [c]ourt, having considered
the evidence submitted in this cause and properly before the
[c]ourt, which includes [Robbins'] settlement demand
letters, copies of which were admitted as Plaintiff's
exhibits 4 and 5  and having reviewed applicable statutory
sections and cases, and considering the objectives of the
statute as herein above set forth, the [c]ourt finds that
prejudgment interest is appropriate[.]
(Appellant's App. p. 78).
We affirm the trial court's award of ...