United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Alter
or Amend Judgment [DE 129], filed by Plaintiff on June 21,
2016. On July 5, 2016, Defendant filed a response, and on
July 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed a reply. Plaintiff requests
that the Court add prejudgment interest to the $87, 000 in
damages awarded by the jury.
September 23, 2014, upon consent of the parties, this case
was reassigned to the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the
entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court
has jurisdiction to decide this case under 28 U.S.C. §
filed his Complaint on February 23, 2009, alleging that
Defendant breached an insurance contract. Defendant insured
Plaintiff's house, but declined to pay Plaintiff when the
house burned down. On June 6, 2016, this case proceeded to
trial before a jury, which returned a verdict in
Plaintiff's favor and awarded him $87, 000 in damages. On
June 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed this Motion to Alter or Amend
the Judgment, arguing that the Court should amend the
judgment to include prejudgment interest.
motion for prejudgment interest filed after entry of final
judgment is considered under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
59(e) as a motion to alter or amend judgment. McNabola v.
Chi. Transit Auth., 10 F.3d 501, 519-20 (7th Cir. 1993)
(citation omitted). Rule 59(e) motions are “not
appropriately used to advance arguments or theories that
could and should have been made before the district court
rendered a judgment.” Miller v. Safeco Ins. Co. of
Am., 683 F.3d 805, 813 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting LB
Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263,
1267 (7th Cir. 1995)). The decision of whether to award
prejudgment interest is committed to the district court's
discretion. Miller, 683 F.3d at 813.
contends that Plaintiff's motion is untimely because
Plaintiff should have requested prejudgment interest before
the Court entered judgment. Defendant argues that prejudgment
interest “does not raise issues wholly collateral to
the judgment in the main cause of action . . . nor does it
require an inquiry wholly separate from the decision on the
merits.” Osterneck v. Ernst & Whinney, 489
U.S. 169, 176-77 (1989).
cases from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh
Circuit are relevant to this case. In Miller v. Safeco
Insurance Company of America, the Seventh Circuit
affirmed a district court's award of prejudgment interest
on a Rule 59(e) motion. Id. at 815. That case
involved a dispute between homeowners and their insurer over
an insurance policy. Id. at 808. The district court
bifurcated the issues for trial into one trial concerning
coverage and another concerning bad faith claims.
Id. at 809. After the bench trial addressing
coverage, the district court found that the insurer should
have paid the plaintiffs under the policy and was liable for
about $485, 000 in damages. Id.
the district court was still considering the plaintiffs'
bad faith claim but before judgment had been entered in
plaintiffs' favor, the plaintiffs asked for prejudgment
interest on the full coverage damages award. Id. at
814. The district court, however, found that the defendant
did not have notice of the plaintiffs' entire claim until
the bench trial's conclusion. Id. The court
found that the plaintiffs' original pretrial claim letter
to the defendant disclosed a smaller amount of damages.
Id. Therefore, the court granted the motion for
prejudgment interest on the full amount of damages determined
at trial and fixed the start of the accrual period to after
the trial. Id.
the court entered final judgment, the plaintiffs filed a Rule
59(e) motion and re-raised the prejudgment interest issue.
Id. The plaintiffs now argued that they could
recover prejudgment interest on the amount in their claim
letter, accruing from 30 days after they sent defendant the
letter. Id. The district court agreed and granted
the motion, stating that the plaintiffs should not “be
penalized for wrongly computing prejudgment interest before
judgment was entered.” Id. The Seventh Circuit
affirmed the district court's Rule 59(e) order, holding:
Given the deference we entrust district courts on Rule 59(e)
motions, and that such motions are appropriately used to fix
errors . . . we are not going to find the efforts to arrive
at the right answer on the interest calculation an abuse of
discretion merely because ...