Ballou v. Law Offices Howard Lee Schiff, P.C.
Connecticut General Statutes §52-356d(e) does not provide for the automatic accrual of postjudgment interest on all judgments in which an installment payment order has been entered by the court. Midland Funding, LLC obtained judgments against Susan Ballou in two cases arising out of debts owed on two consumer credit cards. The small claims court entered installment payment orders pursuant to C.G.S. §52-356d in both cases. Midland's attorney, The Law Offices Howard Lee Schiff, P.C., did not apply for an order of postjudgment interest in either case and no such order issued. The firm sought a bank execution against Ballou and directed the marshal to add postjudgment interest of 10 percent to the amount of the judgments. Consequently, Ballou commenced an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleging, relevantly, that The Law Offices of Howard Lee Schiff, P.C., overstated the amount of the debts in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §1692. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment disputing whether postjudgment interest accrues automatically under C.G.S. §52-356d(e). The District Court certified questions to the Connecticut Supreme Court, the dispositive one of which was whether C.G.S. §52-356d(e) provides for the automatic accrual of postjudgment interest on all judgments in which an installment payment order has been entered by the court. The Supreme Court answered that question in the negative. While the matter was pending the Appellate Court rejected a claim that postjudgment interest is mandatory under C.G.S. §52-356d(e) in the 2011 case of Discover Bank v. Mayer. The majority of the Supreme Court panel agreed with the analysis in Mayer. Because an award of postjudgment interest ordinarily is a matter that falls within the sound discretion of the trial court, the Supreme Court was disinclined to presume that the legislature intended to require an award of such interest unless that result is dictated either by the express statutory language or by necessary implication from that language. No such language appears in C.G.S. §52-356d (e). Also missing was an interest rate that would be applicable when the court has not set a rate of interest. Justice Zarella, with whom Justice McLachlan joined, concurred separately to clarify and note the limit of their agreement with the majority opinion.