On August 24, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss claims asserted under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), holding that for claims based on collections suits, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the consumer is served with a copy of the underlying complaint.

In Daiss v. Pace, the plaintiff entered into an agreement to purchase a collection of antiques and military memorabilia. After a dispute arose concerning the contents of the collection, the plaintiff refused to pay the seller the full purchase price. The seller then hired the defendant, an attorney and debt collector, to seek payment. On August 2, 2021, the defendant sent the plaintiff a collection letter demanding payment within ten days. When the plaintiff did not comply, the defendant filed a state court action on August 16, 2021.

More than a year later, on August 19, 2022, the plaintiff filed a separate suit alleging that the defendant violated the FDCPA by attempting to collect a debt he does not owe. The defendant moved to dismiss the claims, arguing that they were barred by FDCPA § 1692k(d), which requires claims under the FDCPA to be brought within one year of the date of the alleged violation.

The court granted the motion as to claims concerning the August 2 collection letter. Because the plaintiff filed suit more than a year after the letter was sent, the court found any FDCPA claims based on the letter were time-barred.

However, the court reached a different conclusion as to the claims based on the collection suit. The parties agreed that the plaintiff filed his complaint more than a year after the defendant filed the underlying action. But although the defendant filed the collection action on August 16, 2021, he did not serve the plaintiff with a copy of the complaint until August 20, 2021. The court found that the date of service was the defendant’s “last opportunity to comply with the FDCPA” and held that the statute of limitations began to run on this date. Because the plaintiff filed suit within one year of the being served, his claim was timely, and the court denied the motion to dismiss.