A federal district court in the Middle District of Florida recently dismissed a pro se plaintiff’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) action as time-barred because the defendants filed the foreclosure that was the basis for the plaintiff’s claims over four years prior.
In DeBoskey v. Statebridge Company, LLC, the plaintiff brought a FDCPA and FCCPA action against a number of defendants who were involved in a state court mortgage foreclosure filed against the plaintiff in 2018. The plaintiff previously sought to bring the same claims through a counterclaim to the foreclosure action, but the state court rejected his attempt for lack of good cause. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed this suit in federal court.
The plaintiff’s federal action alleged the defendants engaged in illegal collection activity in connection with the 2018 foreclosure lawsuit, including by making false claims about the debt and improper threats with respect to the foreclosure of his property. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims as time-barred under the FDCPA’s and FCCPA’s respective one and two-year statutes of limitation. At the time of the defendants’ motion, the 2018 foreclosure action remained pending and filings had been made in that action as recently as February 2023.
Relying on the Eleventh Circuit’s 2017 decision in Rivas v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon and the Southern District of Florida’s 2014 decision in Archer v. Aldridge Connors, LLP, the district court found that the statute of limitations for FDCPA and FCCPA claims based on conduct in a foreclosure action began to run on the date the plaintiff (i.e., the foreclosure defendant) was served with the foreclosure complaint. As a result, the court held that the applicable statute of limitations for the plaintiff’s claims in his federal lawsuit began in 2018 when one of the defendants served the plaintiff with an amended foreclosure complaint.
While the defendants had recently made filings in the foreclosure action, which according to the plaintiff were in furtherance of the allegedly illegal debt collection scheme, the district court summarily held that those filings did not restart the clock for statute of limitations purposes. Although the court did not fully expand on its reasoning, the court implied it was because the plaintiff failed to allege that these filings constituted distinct conduct from the defendants’ participation and maintenance of the lawsuit, which was the original basis for the plaintiff’s claims. However, the court’s decision also can be interpreted more broadly to suggest that later filings made in a foreclosure action can never restart the clock for statute of limitations purposes. Indeed, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s federal action without prejudice, leaving the door open for the plaintiff to “plead additional factual allegations unrelated to the maintenance of the foreclosure proceeding.”