On Oct. 16, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Rotkiske v. Klemm to decide whether the so-called common law discovery rule applies to the one-year statute of limitations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.1 The Supreme Court granted certiorari to address the circuit split between the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits, which held that the discovery rule does not apply, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, which held that it does apply.


The FDCPA was enacted "to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection  practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses."2 It provides for a one-year statute of  limitations: An action to enforce any liability created by this subchapter may be brought in any appropriate United States district court ... within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.3

The plain-language of the text states that the limitations period begins to run when the violation occurs. However, the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, held that the time begins to run  when the violation is discovered by the plaintiff.4

In 2018, this issue was revisited in Rotkiske v. Klemm, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit disagreed with its sister courts of appeals and held that the discovery rule does not apply to the FDCPA. In Rotkiske, the plaintiff’s c redit c ard debt was assigned to the defendant for collections, who sued in 2008, but withdrew that lawsuit and filed
another action in 2009.

To read the full article, please download the PDF below. This article was first published on Law360 on 21 October 2019.

  1. 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq.
  2. 15 U.S.C. §1692(e).
  3. 15 U.S.C. §1692k(d).
  4. Mangum v. Action Collection Serv., Inc., 575 F.3d 935 (9th Cir. 2009); Lembach v.Bierman, 528 Fed.Appx. 297 (4th Cir. 2013) (per curiam).