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Tolling the Statute of Limitations by Initiating Administrative Processes

by Neil Garfield | January 23, 2019

A recent case brought to mind a possible argument for tolling the applicable statute of limitations (SOL) on certain claims. By submission of complaints to the CFPB (TILA, RESPA, FDCPA etc) you are starting an administrative process. It might even be true that by submitting a QWR (under RESPA) or DVL (under FDCPA) you are starting an administrative process. One could argue that while you were in that process the statute of limitations on certain claims should be tolled.

The argument would be that you were exhausting your administrative remedies and that therefore the statute of limitations barring your claim should be tolled (extended). The argument against that position is usually that you didn’t need to exhaust your administrative remedies and therefore there should be no tolling of the statute. General doctrine and decisions weigh the balance of the goal of finality of claims and the desire to see all meritorious claims be litigated in pursuit of justice. The courts vary so do your legal research.

Your position is obviously strongest where you MUST exhaust administrative remedies BEFORE filing a claim, as provided by a statute. Your position is weakest where you didn’t need to exhaust administrative remedies. But equitable arguments often prevail.

Remember that if you are successful the statute of limitations will only be tolled during the period that you were pursuing administrative remedies so the filing of complaint with the CFPB and the AG office in your state is probably a good idea if it’s done sooner rather than later. The fact that administrative remedies were available for a time does not seem to advance your position unless you started some procedure invoking administrative action.

And remember that while you can’t bring a claim for remedies under a tort of statutory violation that is barred by the statute of limitations you CAN raise the same issues as an defense under the doctrine of recoupment. Procedurally recoupment only applies if you are sued. State laws and common law vary so again be careful to do your legal research.

If the foreclosure is contested I believe that under the US Constitution, this requires the foreclosure to become judicial — something that every judicial state has in fact made provision for.

As I have insisted for 12 years, the fact that nonjudicial foreclosure is available for uncontested foreclosures should not be an excuse for changing the burden of proof in contested foreclosures.

Hence the proper (constitutional) procedure would be realignment of the parties to where the claimant for foreclosure must judicially claim foreclosure and prove it while the homeowner merely defends with an answer and affirmative defenses and/or counterclaim.

As it stands, courts resist this approach and that gives the claimants in unlawful and wrongful foreclosures the ability to skip proof and go straight to foreclosure. In my opinion that reveals an unconstitutional application of an otherwise valid statutory scheme for disposing of uncontested foreclosures.

Unlawful detainer or eviction is an attempt to eat fruit from a poisoned tree if in a nonjudicial foreclosure state a contested foreclosure did not require the claimant to assert and prove its claim for foreclosure.

 

 

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