Monday, January 31, 2011

Limitations to the “Written Instrument” judgment interest rate in Michigan

The statutory money judgment interest rate in Michigan is at a new low - - 2.553% as of January 1, 2011. With this paltry statutory rate, the inquiry of the applicable judgment interest rate takes on added importance. If you are defending a judgment debtor, don’t assume that the higher written instrument interest rate applies just because there was a written contract.

The higher rate only applies if the written instrument evidences "indebtedness with a specified interest rate." MCLA 600.6013.  This qualifying language was specifically added the last time the statute was amended in 2001. Therefore, I believe the statute requires both a stated interest rate along with a specified amount. The typical open account statement with a monthly finance charge doesn't meet the definition and is not entitled to post-judgment enforcement.

This analysis is supported by the only case I've read that addresses the issue - Novi Promenade Associates v Target, 2006 WL 847118 (ED MI 2006). The court in that case found that the statute contemplated such things as land contracts or promissory notes.  The analysis has also been accepted by Judge Lauderbach of the 42nd circuit court.

Mid-Michigan Litigation Update is authored by W. Jay Brown, a Midland Michigan based civil litigation attorney. The foregoing is intended to be for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between W. Jay Brown PLC and you. Individuals with legal issues are advised to consult an attorney of your own choosing for advice specific to your situation.