This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




American Mutual Life Insurance Company,



North Star Bank,


Filed April 22, 1997

Reversed and remanded

Peterson, Judge

Ramsey County District Court

File No. C7955390

Randy V. Thompson, Persian, MacGregor & Thompson, 1530 International Centre, 900 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for Respondent)

Dennis B. Johnson, Jeffrey D. Bores, Chestnut & Brooks, P.A., 3700 Piper Jaffray Tower, 222 South Ninth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for Appellant)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.



This appeal is from a district court order awarding prejudgment interest at a rate in excess of the rate provided by Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1 (1994). We reverse and remand.


American Mutual Life Insurance Company was the first mortgagee on property in Ramsey County, with a mortgage lien interest in excess of $1,000,000. North Star Bank was the second mortgagee on the property, with a mortgage lien interest in excess of $175,000. Upon default by the mortgagor, North Star commenced foreclosure proceedings culminating in a sheriff's sale on November 1, 1990. On the date of sale, the property was encumbered by delinquent real estate taxes in the amount of $64,106.86 plus interest and penalties. Pursuant to an assignment of leases and rents, North Star collected rents generated by the property through June 1991, but did not pay the delinquent taxes as required by the assignment.

On or about July 1, 1991, American took control of the property following foreclosure of its first mortgage and began collecting rents. American paid $115,527 in past due real estate taxes, penalties, and interest. American sued North Star for $115,527 plus interest. The district court found in favor of American and awarded prejudgment interest at the rate of 8.4%.

The parties do not dispute the underlying judgment. The sole issue on appeal is whether the district court had authority to award interest at a rate in excess of the rate provided by Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1 (1994).


"Statutory interpretation is a question of law subject to de novo review." State by Beaulieu v. RSJ, Inc., 552 N.W.2d 695, 701 (Minn. 1996).

Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1(b) (1994), states:

Except as otherwise provided by contract or allowed by law, preverdict, preaward, or prereport interest on pecuniary damages shall be computed as provided in clause (c) from the time of the commencement of the action or a demand for arbitration, or the time of a written notice of claim, whichever occurs first, except as provided herein.

Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1(c) (1994), provides:

The interest shall be computed as simple interest per annum. The rate of interest shall be based on the secondary market yield of one year United States treasury bills, calculated on a bank discount basis as provided in this section.

The state court administrator is required to apply annually a statutory formula to determine the interest rate to be used for judgments during the following year. Id.

The district court relied on the supreme court's decision in State by Humphrey v. Jim Lupient Oldsmobile Co., 509 N.W.2d 361 (Minn. 1993), to conclude that it could impose a higher rate of interest than the rate established under Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1. We do not agree that Jim Lupient Oldsmobile can be read so broadly. In Jim Lupient Oldsmobile, the supreme court stated that it "granted review to clarify the standard by which a trial court should determine the interest rate in condemnation cases." Id. at 363 (emphasis added). In the first sentence of the opinion, the court stated:

In this case, we are asked to clarify the standards to be used by a trial court in determining what interest rate provides just compensation to landowners in condemnation proceedings.

Id. at 362 (emphasis added). The court concluded that

in future condemnation actions, the trial court should presume that the statutory rate is reasonable and, therefore, meets the requirements of just compensation, and should order judgment at that rate unless the condemnee rebuts this presumption and affirmatively shows that another rate is reasonable and affords just compensation.

Id. at 364 (emphasis added). We conclude that Jim Lupient Oldsmobile applies only to condemnation actions.

American argues that the statutory interest rate does not apply to the judgment in this case because Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1(b), states that the statutory rate applies "[e]xcept as otherwise provided by contract or allowed by law," and where there is a conversion of money, the law allows interest at a rate higher than the rate provided by Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1. American, however, did not bring a conversion action. The fact that the district court stated in its memorandum that North Star "converted monies to its own use" does not establish that there was a conversion.

American also argues that the statutory interest rate does not apply to the judgment because Minn. Stat. § 334.01, subd. 1 (1994), allows interest at a 6% rate. Minn. Stat. § 334.01, subd. 1, states:

The interest for any legal indebtedness shall be at the rate of $6 upon $100 for a year, unless a different rate is contracted for in writing.

But in L.P. Medical Specialists, Ltd. v. St. Louis County, 379 N.W.2d 104, 109-10 (Minn. App. 1985), review denied (Minn. Jan. 31, 1986), this court held that for periods after July 1, 1984, the effective date of an amendment to Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1, prejudgment interest is calculated pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1(c), not pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 334.01. The events in this case occurred after July 1, 1984. Accordingly, prejugment interest is calculated pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1.

The district court expressly rejected American's argument that Minn. Stat. § 279.03 (1994), permits a higher prejudgment interest rate. We agree. Minn. Stat. § 279.03 addresses the government's right of action to collect delinquent real property taxes and does not apply to a dispute between private parties regarding which one should pay real property taxes.

We reverse and remand to permit prejudgment interest to be recalculated pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 549.09, subd. 1.

Reversed and remanded.