Rotkiske v. Klemm

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: December 10, 2019
  • Case #: 18-328
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a concurring opinion. GINSBURG, J., filed an opinion dissenting in part and dissenting from the judgment.
  • Full Text Opinion

The one-year statute of limitations under 15 U.S.C. §1692k(d) begins to run on the date on which the alleged FDCPA violation occurs and not on the date that the violation is discovered, absent the application of an equitable doctrine.

Petitioner’s debt was conferred to Respondent who filed suit to collect the debt. Respondent attempted service, but service was accepted by someone not matching Petitioner’s description at an address where Petitioner no longer lived. Petitioner failed to appear at summons and was unaware of the suit until he was denied a mortgage because of the default judgement. Petitioner brought suit six years after the default judgment alleging that equitable tolling excused his untimely filing. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that there is no default presumption that federal time limitations run from the date of discovery. This created a split from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court found that the plain language of 15 U.S.C. §1692k(d) unambiguously states that the clock starts to run on the date of the violation.  The Court rejected Petitioner’s argument that a general discovery rule should be applied to Fair Debt Collections Practices Act actions. Specifically, the Court stated that such an interpretation is inappropriate when Congress has shown that it knows how to adopt the omitted language. The Court held that there is no general discovery rule for federal litigation and resolved the circuit split. AFFIRMED.

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