Northern District of Ohio Holds TCPA Claim Not Equitably Tolled and Barred by Statute of Limitations

Bridge v. Ocwen Federal Bank, FSB, No. 1:07—CV—02739, 2013 WL 331095 (N.D. Ohio Jan. 29, 2013) In a case originally filed in 2007, and in which the Complaint was amended several times, Plaintiff asserted a TCPA claim, which was dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Other claims were also dismissed, including Plaintiff's claim for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Plaintiff appealed the dismissal but only as to the FDCPA claim. Plaintiff's appellate papers specifically stated that Plaintiff did not take issue with the trial court's conclusion that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the TCPA claim. After the appellate court reversed dismissal of the FDCPA claim, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which included a TCPA claim. Defendant moved to dismiss the claim as barred by the statute of limitations. Recognizing that TCPA claims are subject to a four year statute of limitations, the trial court held that Plaintiff's claims were barred because when dismissed without prejudice, they were not refiled within the statute of limitations. In reaching this conclusion the court rejected Plaintiff's arguments that: (1) The claims were saved by Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(b) and (c); and (2) The claims were saved by the doctrine of equitable tolling. With respect to Plaintiff's argument that the TCPA claim was saved by Rule 15, they contended that they related to the same conduct, transaction or occurrence as the TCPA claim. Plaintiff also argued that the claim should be deemed to relate back to the filing of the original complaint. In rejecting this argument, this Court stated "Plaintiffs cite no authority to support this argument. They have not put forward a single case in which claims were dismissed, the plaintiff failed to re-file the claims, the statute of limitations ran, and a court then permitted the claims to be added to a lawsuit, and “revived” by allowing them to relate back to the date of the filing of the first complaint. The Court rejects this novel use of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. Rejecting Plaintiff's equitable tolling argument, the court stated that "federal courts sparingly bestow equitable tolling. Typically equitable tolling applies only when a litigant's failure to meet a legally mandated deadline unavoidably arose from circumstances beyond the litigant's control ... Absent compelling equitable considerations, a court should not extend limitations by even a day. Because Plaintiffs had not shouldered their burden, equitable tolling did not save their claim from dismissal. 

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