Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-20-00776-CV (April 29, 2022)
Justices Reichek (Opinion, linked here), Nowell, and Carlyle
The Dallas Court of Appeals held chapter 304 of the Finance Code requires post-judgment interest on a judgment confirming an arbitration award. The Court cited section 304.003, which states that post-judgment interest accrues on any “money judgment of a court of this state.” Because the trial court’s judgment confirming First National’s arbitration award was a “money judgment of a court of this state,” First National was entitled to post-judgment interest.
The Court acknowledged that its decision departed from a line of cases holding that a court may award post-judgment interest only if the arbitrator awards it. The Court observed that those cases failed to differentiate between post-award interest (accruing from the date of the arbitration award) and post-judgment interest (accruing from the date of final judgment). Post-award interest ordered by a trial court but not the arbitrator amounts to an impermissible modification of an arbitration award. Post-judgment interest, on the other hand, accrues automatically under the Finance Code even if a court’s judgment does not specifically reference it. Awarding post-judgment interest in this context, therefore, is completely consistent with the general rule that courts may not modify arbitration awards, because the post-judgment interest applies to the judgment and not the award.
Given the split among the courts of appeals, and absent reconsideration en banc, the availability of post-judgment interest in arbitration confirmation proceedings appears bound for the Texas Supreme Court. Until then, Bluestone clarifies it’s available (and mandatory) in the Fifth District.