Supreme Court Sets Date to Hear Arguments in FDCPA SOL Case

The Supreme Court has set a date for when it will hear arguments in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case regarding when the clock on its one-year statute of limitations begins.

Arguments in Rotkiske v. Klemm will be heard on Wednesday, Oct. 16. The Supreme Court had agreed in February to hear arguments in the case. A ruling in the case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals last May created a split at the Circuit Court level as to when the statute of limitations begins, opening the door for the Supreme Court to decide the issue.

The plaintiff had a balance on his credit card that was placed with the defendant for collection. The defendant attempted to sue the plaintiff in 2008, but was unable to locate him. The defendant tried again in 2009, and unbeknownst to the plaintiff, someone accepted service of the lawsuit on his behalf. The defendant was able to obtain a default judgment, which was discovered when the plaintiff applied for a mortgage in 2014.

In June 2015, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging a violation of the FDCPA. The defendant moved to have the case dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired and the District Court judge granted the motion. That decision was appealed to the Third Circuit, which ruled that the statute of limitations should start when the violation is discovered, not when it occurs, which is how the Fourth and Ninth Circuits had previously ruled in other cases.

The “Petitioner is a quintessential ‘blamelessly ignorant’ plaintiff — unaware for a time of the violation giving rise to his potential cause of action because of deceptive, misleading or fraudulent conduct by the prospective defendant,” his legal team wrote in the brief. “Here, the default judgment obtained by Respondents was made possible by the filing of a fraudulent Affidavit of Service.”

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