United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
CHARLES W. and ZOE W., Plaintiffs,
REGENCE BLUECROSS BLUESHIELD OF OREGON, Defendant.
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
CAMPBELL, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Charles W. and his daughter, Zoe W., filed this action
against Defendant Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon
(“Regence”), claiming Regence's denial of
certain insurance benefits violated the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act (“ERISA”). On September 27,
2019, the court agreed and granted Plaintiffs' motion for
summary judgment. See Charles W. v. Regence BlueCross
BlueShield of Oregon, No. 2:17-cv-00824-TC, 2019 WL
4736932 (D. Utah Sept. 27, 2019).
now request 10% prejudgment interest on the benefits awarded,
$400.00 in costs, and $70, 498.00 in attorney's fees.
(ECF No. 47.) Regence does not challenge the award of costs
but does challenge the requests for prejudgment interest and
Under ERISA, “[p]rejudgment interest is . . . available
in the court's discretion.” Benesowitz v.
Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 514 F.3d 174, 176 (2d
Cir.2007) . . . . see also Allison, 289 F.3d at 1243
(“Prejudgment interest is appropriate when its award
serves to compensate the injured party and its award is
. . .
Calculation of the rate for prejudgment interest also
“rests firmly within the sound discretion of the trial
court.” Caldwell v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am.,
287 F.3d 1276, 1287 (10th Cir.2002) . . . . Courts commonly
look to state statutory prejudgment interest provisions as
guidelines for a reasonable rate.
Weber v. GE Group Life Assur. Co., 541 F.3d 1002,
1016 (10th Cir. 2008).
Plaintiffs request a 10% interest rate, based on the amount
provided for in Utah Code Section 15-1-1. Regence argues this
provision is inapplicable because although it provides for a
10% interest rate for certain contracts, it does not extend
to insurance contracts.
argument is unpersuasive for three reasons. First, in 2019,
the Utah Legislature amended Section 15-1-1 so that it
applied to all contracts. See 2019 Utah Laws Ch.
437. This was apparently in response to a Utah Supreme Court
decision that reversed longstanding precedent that had
previously interpreted the provision as applying to all
contracts. See USA Power, LLC v. PacifiCorp, 372
P.3d 629, 669-70 (Utah 2016). So there was only a brief,
three-year period when the statute was interpreted narrowly
to exclude some contracts. While the court looks to the
statute only as a possible guideline, the fact that the
Legislature expanded the law in response to the Utah Supreme
Court's decision suggests that Utah is serious about
applying a 10% interest rate to contract damages.
even during the period when the statute was interpreted
narrowly, Regence is incorrect in claiming that it did not
apply to insurance contracts. While Section 15-1-1 did not
specifically mention insurance contracts, it still applied to
such contracts due to its incorporation into Utah Insurance
Code. The Utah Insurance Code requires that insurers pay
“the rate of interest set in accordance with Section
15-1-1” whenever an insurance claim goes unpaid for
more than 90 days. See Utah Code Ann. §
31A-26-301.6(8)(c)(ii)(C) (West 2019). Again, this suggests
Utah is serious about applying a 10% interest rate to unpaid
although Regence has identified two cases from this district
where a lower interest rate was ordered (see Dewsnup v.
Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am., No. 2:17-cv-00126-TC, 2018 WL
6478886 at *11 (D. Utah Dec. 10, 2018); Lynn R. v.
ValueOptions, No. 2:15-cv-362-RJS-PMW, 2018 WL 1737684
at *3 (D. Utah Feb. 27, 2018)), it is much more common for
courts in this district to follow state law and apply a 10%
rate. See, e.g., B.D. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield
of Ga., No. 1:16-cv-00099-DN, 2018 WL 671213 at *13 (D.
Utah Jan. 31, 2018); Lynn R. v. ValueOptions, No.
2:12-cv-1201 TS, 2014 WL 4232519 at *10 (D. Utah Aug. 26,
2014); Krum v. Hartford ...