Court Shifts Date for Post- Judgment Interest by Five Years
February 12, 2003
Last Month at the Federal Circuit - March 2003
Judges: Newman (author), Lourie, and Schall
In Tronzo v. Biomet, Inc., No. 01-1585 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 12, 2003), the Federal Circuit ruled that postjudgment interest on a punitive-damages award should run from the date of the district court’s final judgment entered after the Court had reversed the reduction in punitive damages in a previous appeal.
This case relates to two previous appeals that resulted in compensatory and punitive damages awarded to Dr. Raymond G. Tronzo. See, e.g., Tronzo v. Biomet, Inc., 236 F.3d 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2001). After these decisions, the parties disputed the calculation of interest on the punitive damages. Dr. Tronzo argued that interest should run from the initial judgment in 1996, while Biomet, Inc. (“Biomet”) argued that it should run from the date of the district court’s action after the last Federal Circuit mandate, July 27, 2001. The district court agreed with Dr. Tronzo.
The Federal Circuit disagreed, however, concluding that the appropriate date was that on which the district court had entered judgment on return of the mandate from the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit concluded that its previous decision was flawed in that it failed to instruct the district court as to interest in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 37(a). However, neither party pointed out the oversight when it occurred or requested remedial action. Since the responsibility and authority for the interest determination is assigned to the appellate tribunal, the district court had no authority to set the date of interest.
Accordingly, the Court vacated the award of postjudgment interest from the August 6, 1996, date and, because Dr. Tronzo had failed to timely seek to reform the mandate under Fed. R. App. P. 37, ruled that interest should accrue from the date of the final judgment entered in the district court after the mandate, i.e., July 27, 2001.