Opinion:Andrew v. Depani-Sparkes,  2021 OK CIV APP 41
Subject matter:Rules of Evidence; Pre-judgment Interest; Post-judgment Interest
Date Decided:Decided: 3/31/2021; Mandate Issued: 10/27/2021
Trial Court:District Court of Oklahoma County; Judge Timmons
Route to this Court:Appeal of trial court’s denial of a Motion to Vacate following jury trial.
Facts:Parents brought suit on behalf of their minor child for medical negligence. The jury returned a verdict for the parents in the amount of $700,000. Parents subsequently filed an application for costs, over $420,000 in prejudgment interest and postjudgment interest. Defendant alleged that the parents used the wrong version of the statute (the 2004 version) to calculate the interest and instead the 2013 version of the statute, which was in effect at the time of the verdict, resulted in prejudgment interest of approximately $20,000. The trial court entered an order awarding prejudgment interest based on the 2004 version of the statute. Defendants filed a Motion to Vacate based on their claim of error in the choice of the version of the statute. Defendants also claimed that the trial court erred in the admission and exclusion of certain evidence at trial. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motions and Defendant appeals. The Defendant filed an amended Petition in Error wherein it purported to also appeal from the underlying judgment on the jury verdict. 
Standard of Review:The Defendant filed its motions more than ten but less than thirty days after the underlying judgment was filed. Thus, as to the evidentiary issues at trial, it is a motion to vacate, which did not extend the appeal time, resulting in the appeal of the underlying judgment being untimely. The standard of review of a trial court’s refusal to vacate a judgment is an abuse of discretion. The reviewing court does not look to the original judgment, rather the correctness of the trial court’s response to the motion to vacate. 
As to the post-trial interest issues, the Defendant’s motion is properly characterized as a motion for new trial because it was filed within ten days after the filing on the underlying order on interest. However, the Defendant only appealed from the order denying its motion for a new trial. The standard of review for the denial of a motion for a new trial is an abuse of discretion. However, the interpretation of the prejudgment interest statute is a question of law and when examining the correctness of an alleged error of law we use a de novo review. 
Analysis:The trial court granted a Motion in Limine filed by the parents to exclude certain evidence. Motions in limine are advisory and preliminary. The Defendant failed to raise its objection to the ruling on the Motion in Limine at the appropriate time during trial. The Defendant never objected to the ruling on the record or made the requisite offer of proof. Therefore, Defendant failed to preserve the issue. With respect to the evidence that the Defendant claims was improperly admitted, the Defendant has made no attempt to show the appellate court how the evidence was prejudicial, and it also failed to include all of the testimony and exhibits admitted at trial in the appellate record. We must presume the evidence not contained in the appellate record supported the trial court’s denial of the Motion to Vacate. With respect to the calculation of prejudgment interest, Oklahoma law has consistently recognized that the application of prejudgment interest statutes to cases filed before the statute was adopted is constitutional as long as the effective date of the statute predates the acceptance of the verdict. Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to apply the 2013 version of the prejudgment interest statute that was in effect at the time the 2018 verdict was accepted. Upon remand, the trial court shall calculate the amount of the prejudgment and postjudgment interest in accordance with the 2013 version of Title 12 O.S  § 727.1.
Outcome:Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part. 
Vote:Hixson, J. (author); Fischer, V.C.J., and Rapp, J. concur. 
Other: Petition for Cert denied 7-2. This case was previously remanded to the trial court when the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed and remanded the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the Defendant. OCOCA also analyzed whether it was proper to allow evidence of written-off medical expenses, but the analysis applies what is now a superseded statute.