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Edward Denike Tree Co. v. Butler

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

May 1, 1990

EDWARD DENIKE TREE COMPANY
v.
Raymond E. BUTLER et al.

Argued Feb. 28, 1990.

Warren P. Joblin, Westport, for appellants (defendants).

Alan R. Spirer, Westport, for appellee (plaintiff).

Before SPALLONE, FOTI and LAVERY, JJ.

Page 350

[21 Conn.App. 367] FOTI, Justice.

This action arises out of the plaintiff's claim for the balance due on a promissory note, together with interest and reasonable attorney's fees. The defendants have appealed from the judgment of the trial court which added interest to the judgment pursuant to General Statutes § 52-192a. [1] We find no error.

[21 Conn.App. 368] The promissory note was dated April 28, 1982, in the original principal amount of $82,559. The note provided for annual interest in the amount of 12 percent and reasonable attorney's fees in the event the promissor defaulted on the note. At the time of trial the principal balance due was $48,909 together with unpaid interest from June 1, 1983.

On February 5, 1985, the plaintiff filed an "offer of judgment" in the amount of $48,000. The offer, which was filed within eighteen months of the filing of the complaint, was not accepted by the defendants. On February 8, 1989, a judgment in the amount of $92,583.94 was rendered in favor of the plaintiff based on a jury verdict received and accepted on January 20, 1989. The defendants did not request that interrogatories be submitted to the jury for the purpose of determining how the jury arrived at this amount. The defendants did not move to set aside the verdict and have not appealed that judgment.

[21 Conn.App. 369] After judgment was, the court granted the plaintiff's motion for interest on its offer of judgment pursuant to General Statutes § 52-192a and awarded interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum from February 14, 1984, the date the plaintiff's complaint was filed, to February 8, 1989, the date that judgment was rendered. The court's interest award was in the amount of $55,364.65, bringing the total amount awarded to the plaintiff to $147,948.59.

The defendants have appealed from that order and claim that the trial court erred in its award of interest because the total damages awarded by the jury do not specifically distinguish a separate amount for principal due on the note, interest accrued on the note, and reasonable attorney's fees. It is the defendant's assertion that the court cannot add interest on a promissory note that already provides interest. We do not agree.

The court, by modification of judgment, awarded additional interest pursuant to General Statutes § 52-192a(b). This award is punitive in nature and authorized

Page 351

by legislation enacted to promote fair and reasonable compromise of litigation without trial. Crowther v. Gerber Garment Technology, Inc., 8 Conn.App. 254, 267, 513 A.2d 144 (1986). Interest awarded pursuant to § 52-192a(b) may apply to a judgment that includes attorney's fees and interest. Id.; see also Gionfriddo v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc., 192 Conn. 280, 472 A.2d 306 (1984) ( Gionfriddo I ), and Gionfriddo v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc., 192 Conn. 301, 472 A.2d 316 (1984) (Gionfriddo II ).

The plain language of § 52-192a(b) specifies that "the court shall add to the amount so recovered twelve per cent annual interest on said amount...." This court has stated in the past that " '[w]here the legislative intent is clear and unambiguous, there is no need for statutory construction or a review of the legislative history [21 Conn.App. 370] The legislature is supreme in the area of legislation, and courts must apply statutory enactments according to their plain terms.' " Lee v. Tufveson, 6 Conn.App. 301, 304, 505 A.2d 18, cert. denied, 199 Conn. 806, 508 A.2d 31 (1986), quoting Federal Aviation Administration v. Administrator, 196 Conn. 546, 550-51, 494 A.2d 564 (1985).

There is no error.

In this opinion the other judges ...


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