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Torres v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Supreme Court of Nevada

January 30, 2014

Ernesto TORRES and Leonor Torres, Individually, and Ernesto Torres, as Special Administrator for Andres Torres, Deceased; Ernesto Torres for Armando Torres and Crystal Torres, Minors, Represented as their Guardian Ad Litem; Victoria Campe, as Special Administrator of Frank Enriquez, Deceased; Patricia Jayne Mendez, for Joseph Enriquez, Jeremy Enriquez, and Jamie Enriquez, Minors, Represented as their Guardian Ad Litem; and Maria Arriaga for Koji Arriaga, Represented as his Guardian Ad Litem, Appellants,
v.
GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY, Respondent.

Page 829

Cap & Kudler, and Allen A. Cap, Las Vegas; Albert D. Massi, Ltd., and Albert D. Massi, Las Vegas, for Appellants.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber, LLP, and Daniel F. Polsenberg, and Joel D. Henriod, Las Vegas, for Respondent.

BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.

OPINION

SAITTA, J.:

After obtaining a jury verdict awarding damages for personal injuries and multiple deaths caused by a single vehicle accident, members of the Torres and Enriquez families and Koji Arriaga (the appellants) sought compound post-judgment interest on the judgment. At issue here is whether the appellants are entitled to compound interest on the judgment awarded to them. We hold that they are not. " As a general rule, compound interest is not favored by the law and is generally allowed only in the presence of a statute or an agreement between the parties allowing for compound interest." Campbell v. Lake Terrace, Inc., 111 Nev. 1329, 1333, 905 P.2d 163, 165 (1995), overruled on other grounds by Aviation Ventures, Inc. v. Joan Morris, Inc., 121 Nev. 113, 115, 110 P.3d 59, 60-61 (2005). NRS 17.130(2), the statute that provides a default interest rate for judgments, directs that the interest rate will be adjusted biannually, although the statute does not authorize compound interest. Because it does not authorize compound interest, NRS 17.130(2) only allows for the award of simple interest on judgments.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The underlying facts of this case were before this court in Bahena v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 126 Nev. __, 235 P.3d 592 (2010), and Bahena v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 126 Nev. __, 245 P.3d 1182 (2010). The appellants, along with members of the Bahena family, were traveling in a rental vehicle whose tire separated while on a highway in Utah. As a result, the vehicle rolled over. Several people were killed and several others were severely injured.

The district court struck Goodyear's answer for failure to properly conduct discovery and entered a default liability judgment against Goodyear. After a jury verdict and

Page 830

post-trial motions on the issue of damages, the district court entered a judgment awarding damages to the appellants and the other plaintiffs. The parties then reached a settlement in which the appellants preserved their right to seek compound interest. Goodyear paid the settlement amount and simple interest to the appellants.

The appellants then filed a motion to recover compound interest on the judgment. The district court denied their motion because it concluded that NRS 17.130 only allowed simple interest. This appeal followed.

DISCUSSION

The sole issue in this appeal is whether NRS 17.130, which provides a statutory right for interest on judgments, authorizes an award of compound interest. We review the award of interest upon a judgment for error. Schiff v. Winchell, 126 Nev. __, __, 237 P.3d 99, 100 (2010). Moreover, because the parties dispute the meaning of NRS 17.130, we use a de novo standard of review as we ...


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