A lesson to plaintiffs everywhere – make sure to mind your P’s and Q’s. A District Court judge in Georgia has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, ruling that the statute of limitations on the alleged violation had expired because the plaintiff first filed the suit in a different jurisdiction and left off a letter in the defendant’s name, thereby rendering it impossible to know it had been sued.
A copy of the ruling, in the case of Strange v. SPP, Inc. can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiff received text messages attempting to collect on a debt in July and August of 2020 and filed suit, alleging the messages violated the FDCPA, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and state law in Louisiana because they were sent using an automated telephone dialing system. The problem, for the plaintiff, at least, is that the original lawsuit was filed against SP Processing in the District Court for the District of Arizona. Four months after filing the suit, a default was entered against the defendant because it never responded to the complaint. Two months after the default was entered, the plaintiff filed a motion to transfer the venue to Georgia because he discovered the correct defendant was SPP. The judge approved the transfer and ordered the plaintiff to file an amended complaint and serve it on the correct defendant.
The amended complaint was filed in January 2022, nearly a year after the original complaint was filed.
The defendant, after properly being served, filed a motion to dismiss because the alleged violations were now outside the FDCPA’s one-year statute of limitations. The plaintiff argued that the original lawsuit was filed in a timely manner, but there is nothing to indicate that the defendant had notice of the lawsuit or “any reason to know it was the correct defendant within the 90 days permitted for service of the original pleading,” ruled Judge Steven D. Grimberg of the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.