The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") lawsuit finding Georgia's six-month statute of limitations renewal statute did not apply to the FDCPA.
In Edwards v. Solomon & Solomon, Edwards filed a Complaint against Solomon and Solomon ("Solomon"), a third-party collection agency in Georgia State Court, alleging violations of the FDCPA. Solomon removed the case to federal court based on federal question jurisdiction. Edwards voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit on the same day of removal.
Six months later, Edwards refiled his Complaint in Georgia State Court. Again, Solomon removed the case. Upon removal, Solomon moved to dismiss, arguing Edwards' claims were time-barred under the FDCPA's one-year statute of limitations. In particular, the Complaint alleged violations on May 1, 2018, May 25, 2018, and July 23, 2018. Edwards' filed the new Complaint on November 17, 2019, outside the one-year FDCPA statute of limitations period. Edwards' opposed arguing Georgia's renewal statute, O.C.G.A. § 9-2-61, prevented dismissal of his claims as time-barred. The District Court disagreed and dismissed the case with prejudice. Edwards appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.
Edwards' arguments hinged on whether Georgia's renewal statute applied notwithstanding the FDCPA's express one-year statute of limitations. In affirming the dismissal, the Eleventh Circuit held Congress expressly provided for a one-year limitations period for FDCPA claims and incorporating state renewal statutes into the FDCPA "would undermine the uniform application of this federal limitation."
Many states have a renewal or "savings statutes" designed to provide a window of opportunity for a plaintiff to refile a claim that was dismissed for non-merits reasons, even if the statute of limitations has run. This case serves as a reminder that state statutes cannot save the limitations period within federal laws.
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