United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
BRC RUBBER & PLASTICS, INC., an Indiana corporation, Plaintiff,
CONTINENTAL CARBON COMPANY, a Delaware corporation, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Collins United States Magistrate Judge
August 22, 2019, this Court issued an Opinion and Order (the
“Order”) setting forth Findings of Fact and
Conclusions of Law following a bench trial in this case filed
by Plaintiff BRC Rubber & Plastics, Inc.
(“BRC”), against Defendant Continental Carbon
Company (“Continental”), concluding that BRC had
proven by a preponderance of the evidence its claim that
Continental had repudiated a five-year Agreement to supply
BRC with approximately 1.8 million pounds of carbon black
annually. (ECF 227). The Court awarded BRC damages
in the amount of $842, 683.37, which represents the costs
that BRC incurred in purchasing carbon black from another
supplier as cover after Continental's repudiation of the
Agreement. (Id. at 30). In the Order, the Court took
under advisement BRC's request for an award of
prejudgment interest, observing that BRC first requested
prejudgment interest in the last sentence of its proposed
findings of fact and conclusions of law submitted after the
trial. (Id. at 30-31). The Court afforded the
parties an opportunity to submit supplemental briefs on the
issue, and these briefs have now been considered.
(See ECF 228, 229, 231, 234). For the following
reasons, the Court FINDS that BRC is entitled to prejudgment
interest in the amount of $400, 184.12.
basic purpose of prejudgment interest is to put a party in
the position it would have been in had it been paid
immediately. It is designed to ensure that a party is fully
compensated for its loss.” Am. Nat'l Fire Ins.
Co. v. Yellow Freight Sys. Inc., 325 F.3d 924, 935 (7th
Cir. 2003) (citations omitted); see Ind. Ins. Co. v.
Sentry Ins. Co., 437 N.E.2d 1381, 1391 (Ind.Ct.App.
1982) (“The award of prejudgment interest is founded
solely upon the theory that there has been a deprivation of
the use of money or its equivalent and that unless interest
is added the injured party cannot be fully compensated for
the loss suffered.” (citation omitted)). “In
diversity actions, federal courts must look to state law to
determine the propriety of awarding prejudgment
interest.” Dale R. Horning Co. v. Falconer Glass
Indus., Inc., 730 F.Supp. 962, 969 (S.D. Ind. 1990)
(citing Travelers Ins. Co. v. Transp. Ins. Co., 846
F.2d 1048, 1051 (7th Cir. 1988)).
Indiana, “[p]rejudgment interest is awarded where the
damages are ascertainable in accordance with fixed rules of
evidence and accepted standards of valuation at the time the
damages accrued.” Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. BACT
Holdings, Inc., 723 N.E.2d 436, 441 (Ind.Ct.App. 2000)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). “After
it has been determined that a party is liable for damages,
prejudgment interest is appropriate only when a ‘simple
mathematical computation' is required.”
Id. (citation omitted); see Care Grp. Heart
Hosp., LLC v. Sawyer, 93 N.E.3d 745, 757 (Ind. 2018)
(“An award of prejudgment interest in a contract action
is appropriate purely as a matter of law when the breach did
not arise from tortious conduct, the amount of the claim
rests on a simple calculation, and the trier of fact does not
need to exercise its judgment to assess the amount of
damages.” (citations and footnote omitted)).
Examples of cases where prejudgment interest is appropriate
include those for breach of contract when the damages were
principal payments made under a promissory note; the amount
of a mechanics' lien for a contractor's unpaid bills
for a remodeling project; and an amount stipulated to at a
damages hearing. In these cases, the amount of damages was
clear and did not require any interpretation or judgment on
the part of the trier of fact.
WESCO Distrib., Inc. v. ArcelorMittal Ind. Harbor
LLC, 23 N.E.3d 682, 714 (Ind.Ct.App. 2014) (internal
the foregoing, prejudgment interest “has been allowed
even where some degree of judgment must be used to measure
damages.” Cincinnati Ins. Co., 723 N.E.2d at
Prejudgment interest on damages may be appropriate even
though the fact finder has to use some degree of judgment in
measuring damages; the question in each case must turn on its
facts depending on whether the jury appears to have been able
to make a computation “according to known standards of
value, ” or whether its award was by necessity largely
a matter of subjective judgment about the value of certain
losses. In resolving this question, factors such as the
difference between the jury award and the amount sought, the
nature and completeness of plaintiff's proof and the
nature of the defendant's proof on damages, if any, are
Pub. Serv. Co. of Ind., Inc. v. Bath Iron Works
Corp., 773 F.2d 783, 796 (7th Cir. 1985) (internal
citation omitted) (applying Indiana law).
request for prejudgment interest raised for the first time in
a post-trial motion is timely. See Brooms v. Regal Tube
Co., 881 F.2d 412, 424 n.9 (7th Cir. 1989),
overruled in part on other grounds by Saxton v.
Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 10 F.3d 526, 533 n.12 (7th Cir.
1993). That is, a plaintiff does not waive a request for
prejudgment interest by failing to raise it in the complaint
or even the final pretrial order. See RK Co. v. See,
622 F.3d 846, 853 (7th Cir. 2010) (stating that a failure to
request prejudgment interest in a final pretrial order did
not result in waiver); Brenton H. v. Bd. of Educ. of City
of Chi., No. 10-cv-1360, 2011 WL 4501408, at *6 (N.D.
Ill. Sept. 28, 2011) (rejecting defendant's argument that
plaintiff had waived prejudgment interest where he did not
raise it in his complaint). “[A]n award of prejudgment
interest is generally not considered a matter of
discretion.” INS Investigations Bureau, Inc. v.
Lee, 784 N.E.2d 566, 578 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003); see
also AM Gen. LLC v. Demmer Corp., No.
3:12-CV-00333-WCL-RBC, 2015 WL 1256370, at *10 (N.D. Ind.
Mar. 18, 2015).
interest is computed from the time the principal amount was
demanded or due and is allowable at the permissible statutory
rate when no contractual provision specifies the interest
rate.” Cincinnati Ins. Co., 723 N.E.2d at 441.
Where the parties have not agreed to an interest rate,
Indiana law supplies a rate of eight percent per
annum. Care Grp. Heart Hosp., LLC, 93
N.E.3d at 757 (citing Ind. Code § 24-4.6-1-102); see
also Firstmark Standard Life Ins. Co., 699 N.E.2d at
BRC's Proposed Calculation of ...