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John-Parker v. Parker

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

March 19, 2018

JILL ST. JOHN-PARKER
v.
VIRGIL DUANE PARKER

          Assigned on Briefs March 1, 2018

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bradley County No. V-12-473 Lawrence Howard Puckett, Judge

         In a prior appeal, this Court remanded to the trial court for reconsideration of its marital property division. The trial court affirmed its previous award and awarded an additional sum to former wife as her equitable portion of the parties' marital property. The trial court, however, declined to calculate post-judgment interest on the additional award as of the effective date of the divorce, pursuant to this Court's holding in Watson v. Watson, 309 S.W.3d 483 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2009). On appeal, former wife argues that Watson did not deprive the trial court of discretion to calculate post-judgment interest as of the earlier date. We affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed and Remanded

          Randall D. Larramore, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jill St. John-Parker.

          Donald Capparella, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Virgil Duane Parker.

          J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank G. Clement, P.J., M.S., and John W. McClarty, J., joined.

          OPINION

          J. STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE.

         Background

         The facts in this divorce case are undisputed for purposes of this appeal. Relative to their divorce, Plaintiff/Appellant Jill St. John-Parker ("Appellant") was awarded a lump sum payment of $508, 706.98 in marital property to be paid by Defendant/Appellee Virgil Duane Parker ("Appellee"). Appellee appealed the trial court's judgment. See John-Parker v. Parker, No. E2014-01338-COA-R3-CV, 2016 WL 2936834, at *1 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 17, 2016) [hereinafter, Parker I]. This Court, inter alia, vacated the trial court's judgment regarding the division of marital property, and remanded "to give the trial court an opportunity to make a proper equitable determination" of certain property that we determined constituted marital property. Id. at *9.

         On remand, the trial court affirmed the prior judgment in favor of Appellant in the amount of $508, 706.98, awarded an additional amount for attorney's fees, and awarded Appellant an additional $323, 175.60, as her equitable portion of the marital property.[1] In its oral ruling, the trial court noted that the additional award would be "retroactively effective as of the date of the divorce, " but the order did not contain such language. On November 22, 2016, Appellant filed a motion to alter or amend the trial court's order to explicitly state that the new judgment would be effective retroactively to the date of the divorce and that post-judgment interest would be calculated as of the date of the original judgment. The trial court denied the motion on the basis that it was not permitted to calculate post-judgment interest retroactive to the effective date of the divorce under Watson v. Watson, 309 S.W.3d 483 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2009). The trial court noted, however, that should Watson not control, it would have ordered that post-judgment interest on the additional $323, 175.60 judgment began to accrue as of October 22, 2013, when the divorce was effective. From this order, Appellant now appeals.

         Analysis

         This case presents a single issue: whether the trial court was permitted to award post-judgment interest on the $323, 175.60 judgment as of the effective date of the divorce in this particular case. The award of post-judgment interest is mandated by statute. See Vooys v. Turner, 49 S.W.3d 318, 322 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001) ("[T]he allowance of interest is based upon statute[.]"). Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-14-122, "[i]nterest shall be computed on every judgment from the day on which the jury or the court, sitting without a jury, returned the verdict without regard to a motion for a new trial." The language of section 47-14-122 is mandatory. Clark v. Shoaf, 302 S.W.3d 849, 859 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2008) (citing Ali v. Fisher, 145 S.W.3d 557, 565 (Tenn. 2004)). According to this Court,

A party's right to postjudgment interest is based on that party's entitlement to use the proceeds of the judgment after the award. . . . "[T]he purpose of postjudgment interest is to compensate the successful plaintiff for being deprived of compensation for the loss from the time between ...

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