SUSAN BALLOU v. LAW OFFICES OF HOWARD LEE SCHIFF, P.C., SC 18639
United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
Collections; Whether General Statutes § 52-356d (e) Provides for Automatic Accrual of Postjudgment Interest on Judgments in Which an Installment Payment Order has Been Entered, and, if so, What Rate of Postjudgment Interest Applies.
The defendant law firm filed two collection actions against the plaintiff in small claims court. In each of those cases, the court rendered a judgment against the plaintiff and ordered her to pay the defendant in installments. After the plaintiff defaulted on those payments, the small claims court issued a bank execution. When the defendant delivered that execution to a marshal for service, he directed the marshal to collect postjudgment interest. The plaintiff then filed suit in the United States District Court, alleging, among other things, that the defendant violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act by adding postjudgment interest to the judgments without the court's authorization. In particular, she alleged that under General Statutes § 52-356d (e), postjudgment interest is discretionary not mandatory and that the only way postjudgment interest is available is when it has been established that the withholding of payment on a judgment was wrongful. The defendant moved for summary judgment in the plaintiff's action on the ground that it could not have violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act because § 52-356d (e) provides that postjudgment interest is automatically applied to any unpaid balance under a judgment where the court has entered an installment payment order against the judgment debtor. The plaintiff then filed a cross motion for summary judgment. After reviewing the parties' briefs, the district court concluded that the issue in the case turned on the interpretation of § 52-356d (e), and it therefore requested certification of the case to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which accepted the following questions pursuant to General Statutes § 51-199b: "(A) Does General Statutes § 52-356d (e) provide for the automatic accrual of postjudgment interest on all judgments in which an installment payment order has been entered by the court? (B) If question "A" is answered in the affirmative, what rate of postjudgment interest applies?"