Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
APPEAL FROM HAMILTON MUNICIPAL COURT Case No. 2019CVF00872
R. Matejkovic, for appellant.
E. Thomas, appellee, pro se.
A. Adams, appellee, pro se.
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. 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
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 ...