Reservation of Jurisdiction to Award Prejudgment Interest When Judgment Is Not Final
In McGurn v. Scott, 596 So. 2d 1042 (Fla. 1992), the Supreme Court of Florida held that the reservation of jurisdiction to award prejudgment interest in an order purporting to be a final judgment is improper because prejudgment interest is an element of damages. Id. at 1044.
The Court further held that although such a judgment is technically not a final order, it will be deemed to be final for purposes of appeal, because the order grants the plaintiff the right to execute against the defendant's assets. Id. at 1044-45.
Further, under McGurn, once an appeal is taken, the trial court then lacks jurisdiction to rule on the issue of prejudgment interest and the plaintiff will be deemed to have waived the matter of prejudgment interest. Id. at 1045.
The application of the McGurn rule has resulted in the inadvertent waiver of prejudgment interest where the trial court, often at the behest of the parties, enters a final judgment but reserves jurisdiction to award prejudgment interest.
Because the court conclude that the trial court should be allowed to decide the issue of prejudgment interest separately, we recede from McGurn and answer the following rephrased certified question in the affirmative:
SHOULD a TRIAL COURT BE ALLOWED TO RESERVE JURISDICTION IN a FINAL JUDGMENT TO AWARD PREJUDGMENT INTEREST?