SCOTUS Opinion: Court Rejects Discovery Rule For Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Claims

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that claims be brought “within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.” In Rotkiske v. Klemm, a debt collector filed suit against Kevin Rotkiske, served him where he no longer lived, and obtained a default judgment against him in 2009. Rotkiske learned of the judgment in 2014, and sued the debt collector. Rotkiske argued that the Act applied the “discovery rule” permitting his suit to be timely as filed within one year of when he discovered the collector’s conduct, but the district court and Third Circuit disagreed. The Court, in an 8-1 decision by Justice Thomas, affirmed, holding that the Act’s plain language precluded application of a discovery rule. The Court noted that the presence of fraud might equitably allow the discovery rule to apply, but held that Rotkiske had not preserved that argument. Justice Sotomayor wrote a concurrence to emphasize her view that the fraud-specific equitable discovery rule was not “bad wine of recent vintage,” but rather was historically available to parties. Justice Ginsburg concurred in part and dissented in part, arguing that Rotkiske had preserved his fraud-based argument, and should have had the benefit of the rule applied to his case.

A link to the opinion is here.