The Appellate Group

Smith v. Volkswagen SouthTowne

Smith v. Volkswagen SouthTowne, 2024 UT App 33 (Mortensen, J.)

Statutory Interpretation

In a personal injury case, Plaintiff obtained a verdict and judgment (2018 Judgment) that were later set aside by the trial court. Three years later, the Utah Supreme Court determined the trial court had erred in setting aside the verdict. On remand, the trial court awarded over $400,000 in postjudgment interest. The defendant (Volkswagen) appealed the award of interest, arguing first that the trial court misinterpreted the postjudgment interest statute and erred by awarding Plaintiff postjudgment interest from the date of the 2018 Judgment, and second, the trial court violated the mandate rule. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The 2018 Judgment was a final judgment to which postjudgment interest statutorily applied, and while the statute has gone through numerous iterations since the Hewitt decision (the case relied on by the trial court), the statutory scheme as it stands today does not impact the applicability of Hewitt.
  • The mandate rule was not violated because the original judgment was revitalized regardless of whether our high court’s mandate is to reinstate the ‘verdict’ or ‘judgment on’ the verdict.
  • Practice tip: Throughout the briefing, the parties referred to a motion as one for ‘judgment notwithstanding the verdict.’ The court explained this terminology was outdated and referred to the motion as a rule 50 motion for judgment as a matter of law, consistent with the current Utah Rules of Civil Procedure.

Read the full court opinion