The respondent in an upcoming Supreme Court case that will seek to determine when the statute of limitations clock on an alleged violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act starts running has filed his brief, arguing that the clock should start ticking from the date the violation occurs and not the date when the violation is uncovered.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Rotkiske v. Klemm on Oct. 16. The petitioner has already filed his brief with the Supreme Court. A copy of the respondent’s brief can be accessed by clicking here.
The respondent is seeking to have an Appeals Court ruling from the Third Circuit affirmed that the statute of limitations should start running when the violation occurs. The legal argument at play here is whether Congress intended to use something known as the discovery rule, which delays the beginning of a limitations period until the plaintiff knew of or should have known of his injury, or the occurrence rule, which is when the actual violation happened, when it enacted the FDCPA.
The petitioner had a balance on his credit card that was placed with the respondent for collections. The respondent attempted to sue the petitioner in 2008 but was unable to locate him. The respondent tried again in 2009, and unbeknownst to the petitioner, someone accepted service of the lawsuit on his behalf. The respondent was able to obtain a default judgment, which was discovered when the petitioner applied for a mortgage in 2014.
In June 2015, the petitioner filed suit against the respondent, alleging a violation of the FDCPA. The respondent 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 affirmed the dismissal.
“Short of expressly calling out and rejecting a discovery rule in the FDCPA — which this Court has said is not required — Congress could not have been more emphatic that the occurrence rule governs,” the respondent wrote in his brief. “Finally, the purposes of statutes of limitations generally, and the FDCPA in particular, support interpreting the statute in line with its plain meaning.”