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Dix Road Property Management LLC v. Thomas

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

December 30, 2019

DIX ROAD PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LLC, Appellant,
v.
JEREMY E. THOMAS, et al., Appellees.

          CIVIL APPEAL FROM HAMILTON MUNICIPAL COURT Case No. 2019CVF00872

          Joseph R. Matejkovic, for appellant.

          Jeremy E. Thomas, appellee, pro se.

         Brittany A. Adams, appellee, pro se.

          OPINION

          S. POWELL, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Dix Road Property Management LLC ("Dix Road"), appeals from a judgment issued by the Hamilton Municipal Court granting it default judgment against appellees, Jeremy E. Thomas and Brittany A. Adams.[1] For the reasons outlined below, the trial court's judgment is reversed and this matter is remanded for further proceedings.

         {¶ 2} On May 24, 2017, Dix Road entered into a contract with Thomas and Adams to lease residential rental property located in Trenton, Ohio. Pursuant to that contract, the parties agreed that a 24% interest rate would apply to and accrue on any outstanding balance that may be found due and payable to Dix Road. After entering into this contract, Thomas and Adams failed to pay rent, late fees, utilities, and other charges then due and payable to Dix Road. As a result, on March 29, 2019, Dix Road filed a complaint for breach of contract requesting $2, 670 in damages from Thomas and Adams. Dix Road also requested prejudgment and postjudgment interest at the contracted 24% interest rate plus court costs. Neither Thomas nor Adams filed any responsive pleading to Dix Road's complaint.

         {¶ 3} On June 12, 2019, Dix Road moved for default judgment against Thomas and Adams. The trial court granted Dix Road's motion on June 27, 2019. However, rather than granting Dix Road prejudgment and postjudgment interest at the contracted 24% interest rate, the trial court instead granted Dix Road the following:

Therefore, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Plaintiff Dix Road Property Management, LLC is hereby granted judgment against Defendants Jeremy E. Thomas and Brittany A. Adams, jointly and severally, in the amount of $2, 670.00 together with post-judgment interest at the rate of 5% per year, and all costs of this action.

         {¶ 4} Dix Road now appeals from the trial court's decision, raising the following single assignment of error for review.

         {¶ 5} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT BY GRANTING JUDGMENT WITH INTEREST AT OTHER THAN THE CONTRACT RATE.

         {¶ 6} In its single assignment of error, Dix Road argues that the trial court erred by failing to award it prejudgment and postjudgment interest at the contracted 24% interest rate. We agree.

         {¶ 7} "The Ohio Supreme Court has held that, under R.C. 1343.03, parties can agree by written contract to provide a higher rate of interest than the statutory maximum rate." Marion Plaza, Inc. v. D & L Enters., 7th Dist. Mahoning No. 09-MA-207, 2010-Ohio- 6267, ¶ 12, citing Minster Farmers Coop. Exchange Co. v. Meyer, 117 Ohio St.3d 459, 2008-Ohio-1259, ¶ 25. Specifically, R.C. 1343.03(A) provides, in pertinent part, the following:

[W]hen money becomes due and payable upon any bond, bill, note, or other instrument of writing, upon any book account, upon any settlement between parties, upon all verbal contracts entered into, and upon all judgments, decrees, and orders of any judicial tribunal for the payment of money arising out of tortious conduct or a contract or other transaction, the creditor is entitled to interest at the rate per annum determined pursuant to section 5703.47 of the Revised Code, unless a written contract provides a different rate of interest in relation ...

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