Last year, I wrote a post called Judgment Creditors are Limited to the terms of their Foreign Judgments, which cited a Tennessee Court of Appeals case styled The Wolf Organization, Inc. v. TNG Contractors, LLC.
The point of that opinion was that a judgment creditor seeking to domesticate a foreign judgment under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 26-6-101 to-108) would be limited to the actual amount of the foreign judgment. In Wolf, the issue was that the creditor was asking for the judgment amount plus more post-judgment attorney fees to be allowed. The Wolf Court said that the claim for additional attorney’s fees was a separate claim.
I appreciated this case, since it provided resolution of an obscure, but common, issue under the Tennessee Foreign Judgment Act.
Well, a little more than a year later, the Wolf litigants are back at it, with another interesting issue. The latest is Friday’s opinion, The Wolf Organization, Inc. v. TNG Contractors, LLC, M202000093COAR3CV (Tenn. App. Aug. 21, 2020).
The new issue? If the foreign judgment provides for a specific post-judgment rate of interest, but the Order enrolling the foreign judgment doesn’t mention interest, what happens?
The Court makes two useful observations:
- Regardless of whether the new Order says anything about post-judgment interest, all judgments are automatically entitled to post-judgment interest.
- But, in the absence of a specific statement or order about the amount of post-judgment interest in the enrollment Order, the rate of interest is just the Tennessee statutory rate, found at Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-14-121.
My take-aways from this opinion:
- Details matter. If you think you will need it in the future, include it in the text of the Order. An order from a court will always be the most important pleading you’ll draft, and a smart lawyer will think about all the things she will need from this order and work backwards.
- Are Orders always required? Under the Foreign Judgment statute, an order is not expressly required. Instead, under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 3A.04, the Clerk simply “enrolls” the original judgment after 30 days after service.
Sure, the Wolf creditor could have avoided all of this with a more detailed Order; could they have avoided all this by not filing any order? Maybe.
Also, following the first Wolf opinion, the creditor needed to go back to the other state to get an award of attorneys fees. Couldn’t the creditor also get a judgment for post-petition interest at the higher rate and then come back to Tennessee?
Either way, it’s an interesting case on a rarely litigated statutory scheme.