New ‘Traps’ Excerpt: Determining Prejudgment Interest in Breach of Contract Cases

Thursday, April 8, 2021
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The Massachusetts Bar Association is in the process of updating its Traps for the Unwary publication, a member-exclusive reference guide last published in 2011 that looks at some of the malpractice hazards for attorneys who practice in a general, civil practice. While the guide is nearing completion, we invite members to share any “traps” they’ve come across in their practice for possible inclusion in the next edition.

Share your trap suggestion by emailing it to Attorney James E. Harvey of O’Malley and Harvey LLP, who is again serving as editor-in-chief for the project and is working closely with liaisons from several MBA section councils.

To help you identify potential traps, the MBA will periodically publish excerpts from Traps for the Unwary in eJournal. View this week’s trap, plus previously shared examples, below.


Prejudgment interest in a breach of contract case is calculated from the date of the breach. M.G.L. c. 231, § 6C. However, if the plaintiff fails to establish the date of the breach, i.e., does not obtain a finding of the date by the factfinder at trial, then the court will calculate prejudgment interest from the date the complaint was filed. The plaintiff must request the trial judge to ask the jury to determine the date of breach, or the date will not be established for purposes of calculating prejudgment interest. Karen Construction Co. v. Lizotte, 396 Mass. 143, 149, 484 N.E2d 1011 (1985).