Illinois Appellate Court Holds Four-Year Federal Catch-All Statute of Limitations Governs Private Party TCPA Claims Brought In State Court

Wellington Homes, Inc. v. West Dundee China Palace Restaurant, No. 2-12-0740 (Ill App. 2d March 13, 2013) Plaintiff filed suit, placing at issue allegedly unsolicited faxes sent in violation of the TCPA. At issue was the applicable statute of limitations. Defendant's argued that the Illinois two-year statute governing claims brought for statutory damages governed. Plaintiff argued the federal four-year statute of limitations codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1658 governed. The trial court agreed with Plaintiff but certified the question to the appellate court. Holding that the the four-year statute of limitations governs, the court stated "Not only do we find persuasive the out-of-state cases that have applied the federal catchall statute of limitations to TCPA claims, we also conclude that our supreme court's analysis in Italia Foods dictates this result. As we discussed above, applying a shorter state statute of limitations to private TCPA claims brought in Illinois state courts would require us to ignore supremacy clause case law that supports the opposite conclusion. Thus, applying the state statute of limitations also would require us to interpret the statutory language “if otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of court of a State” more broadly than our supreme court in Italia Foods interpreted it. In other words, because our supreme court has interpreted this statutory language as simply an acknowledgment of well-established supremacy clause jurisprudence, and because a state court enforcing federal law pursuant to the supremacy clause generally must apply a federal statute of limitations where Congress has provided one, we are compelled to conclude that Illinois state courts must apply the four-year federal catchall statute of limitations to private TCPA claims."

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