Entry of Judgement After an Elder Abuse Verdict

March 7, 2024

You’ve done it! You have secured a large elder abuse verdict on behalf of your clients. Now that that’s happened, the very first thing the defense will ask the Court to do is delay entry of judgment until the conclusion of post-trial motions. While this may seem like a common-sense approach, defendants are not entitled under the law to a delay in the entry of judgment. To the contrary, the law supports immediate imposition of judgment.

Elder abuse practitioners should oppose any request to stay the entry of judgment and instead request that the judgment be entered forthwith. If judgment was not entered immediately following announcement of the verdict, plaintiffs’ counsel should provide the Court with a form of judgment via email as a Word document to facilitate entry of judgment. Why is this important? Because entry of judgment immediately begins the running of interest on the judgment. If the verdict is large, the amount of judgment per day that can accumulate between the date of the jury’s verdict and the final disposition of post-verdict motions can be substantial. Assume for example that judgment is entered in the amount of $30 million and resolution of post-trial motions takes six months. In that case, interest of $1.5 million would accrue during the pendency of these post-trial motions.

If defendants are unable to prevent entry of judgment, they will next seek to stay enforceability of judgment pending their posting of a bond for an appeal. The law is less clear in this area. A stay enforcing the judgment would preclude plaintiffs from levying on accounts or real estate while the stay is in place. The law gives the trial court the authority to stay enforcement of judgment in “its discretion.” We are aware of some courts issuing such a stay as a matter of course. However, in a recent trial we completed, the trial court denied defendants’ motion for a stay of enforceability of judgment.

What if the Court denies a motion for a stay of enforceability of judgment? If this happens, plaintiffs are free to levy upon the assets of the defendants. There are pros and cons to this approach. The pros are that levying assets may assist in ensuring that assets continue to exist (are not dissipated or fraudulently transferred) while the stay is in place. Levying assets may also encourage settlement because of its potential to disrupt operations. On the con side, collection efforts are expensive and time consuming. Further, they may heighten tensions between the parties and thus dissuade parties from successfully settling.

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