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Calculating the Current Amount Due on a Washington State Judgment

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2020 | Firm News

Judgment Summary

In Washington state, every judgment must have a “judgment summary”.  RCW 4.64.030  This statute applies even to foreign judgments that are domesticated in the state of Washington.

The judgment summary includes: the amount of the judgment, the interest owed to the date of the judgment, and the total of the taxable costs and attorney fees, if known at the time of the entry of the judgment.

Confusion arises in the use of the phrase: “the amount of the judgment”.  It may be better to think of that as the “principal amount” of the judgment.  A more detailed explanation is provided below in the section “Total Amount of Judgment”.

The judgment summary attached to the entry of a foreign judgment must include, in addition to the above, the filing date in the foreign court of the judgment.  The judgment summary must also include the date the foreign judgment “expires” under the laws of state of original jurisdiction.  If the statute of limitations for

Attorney Fee Awards and Amended Judgments

Sometimes the attorneys fees and costs aren’t included in the judgment at the time the judgment is originally filed because they are calculated and awarded later.  An example is a wrongful termination case tried to a jury, where the judge entered a judgment on the jury verdict.  The applicable Washington statute allows attorney fees to the prevailing party, which are determined by the court after the trial is over.  When the court later determines  attorneys fees, an amended judgment including costs and attorneys fees should be filed.  Wlasiuk v. Whirlpool Corp., 76 Wash. App. 250, 252, 884 P.2d 13, 15 (1994)

Mathematical Process of Calculating Interest

The courts calculate interest by taking the per annum rate and divide by 365, taking it out three decimal places.  See, Sharbono v. Universal Underwriters Insurance, 158 Wn.App. 963 (Wn.App. 2010); State v. Trask, 98 Wash. App. 690, 699, 990 P.2d 976, 981 (2000) That nets a “per diem” interest rate.

For prejudgment interest, determine the date that the prejudgment interest award was supposed to start accruing.  Multiply the per diem by the number of days between that date and the date the judgment will be entered.

For post-judgment interest, the total interest is calculated by multiplying the number of days since the judgment was entered.

There is an easy tool on the web that allows you to easily calculate the number of days between two dates:

Total Amount of the Judgment for Collection and Execution Purposes

As pointed out above, the dollar amount entered in the “amount of the judgment” line in the judgment summary isn’t the total judgment for purposes of calculating post-judgment interest when collecting on the judgment.  The total amount of the judgment, for purposes of collection and execution, also includes the taxable costs, attorneys fees, and prejudgment interest.

Post-judgment interest is applied to the sum of all the entries in the judgment summary: judgment, pre-judgment interest, awarded attorneys fees, and court costs.  Robb v. Kaufman, 95 Wash. App. 1022 (1999)(post-judgment interest is applied to costs and fees).

Post-judgment interest in Washington is generally calculated as simple interest.  One exception to that rule is: “When prejudgment interest is awarded, it is added to the judgment and becomes part of the judgment principal.”
State v. Trask, 98 Wash. App. 690, 695-96, 990 P.2d 976, 979 (2000)

Rate of Post Judgment Interest is Same for All Portions of Judgment

Attorneys fees awards earn post-judgment interest at the same rate as judgment amount.  Wash. State Commc’n Access Project v. Regal Cinemas, Inc., 173 Wash. App. 174, 225, 293 P.3d 413, 439 (2013).  If the judgment earns interest at a higher rate under the terms of a contract being enforced, the attorney fee award earns interest at that rate.  If the judgment earns interest at the “tort” rate under RCW 4.56.110, the attorney fee award earns interest at that rate.

Application of Partial Payments on the Judgment

Credit shall be applied first to interest, then to principal.  Robb v. Kaufman, No. 41007-5-I, 1999 Wash. App. LEXIS 771, at *15 (Ct. App. Apr. 26, 1999)