In Rotkiske v. Klemm, 2018 WL 2209120 (3rd Cir. 2018), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the FDCPA’s Statute of Limitations has no discovery rule, disagreeing with the 4th and 9th Circuits.
The United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits have held that the time begins to run not when the violation occurs, but when it is discovered. See Lembach v. Bierman, 528 Fed.Appx. 297 (4th Cir. 2013) (per curiam); Mangum v. Action Collection Serv., Inc., 575 F.3d 935 (9th Cir. 2009). We respectfully disagree. In our view, the Act says what it means and means what it says: the statute of limitations runs from “the date on which the violation occurs.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(d). . . We recently summarized the two basic models that “a legislature may choose” in fixing the start of a limitations period. G.L. v. Ligonier Valley Sch. Dist. Auth., 802 F.3d 601, 613 (3d Cir. 2015). First, a statute can run from “the date the injury actually occurred, an approach known as the ‘occurrence rule.’ ” Id. Alternatively, Congress may delay the start of the limitations period until “the date the aggrieved party knew or should have known of the injury, that is, the ‘discovery rule.’ ” Id. Sometimes Congress clearly picks one model or another. When a statute of limitations begins to run only when “the plaintiff acquired or should have acquired actual knowledge of the existence of such cause of action,” the discovery rule plainly applies. See, e.g., 29 U.S.C. § 1451(f)(2); Bay Area Laundry, 522 U.S. at 204, 118 S.Ct. 542 (interpreting 29 U.S.C. § 1451(f)(2) to impose a discovery rule); Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, 559 U.S. 633, 648, 130 S.Ct. 1784, 176 L.Ed.2d 582 (2010) (interpreting similar language in 28 U.S.C. § 1658(b)(1) ). Likewise, when Congress specifies that the “date on which the violation occurs” starts the limitations period, the occurrence rule plainly applies. Accordingly, we hold that § 1692k(d)’s one-year limitations period begins to run when a would-be defendant violates the FDCPA, not when a potential plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the violation.Congress does not, of course, always express statutes of limitations so directly. Instead of expressly enacting an occurrence or a discovery rule, Congress often articulates statutes of limitations in terms somewhere between those two poles. Some statutes of limitations begin when a “claim first accrue[s].” See, e.g., Gabelli, 568 U.S. at 447–48, 133 S.Ct. 1216 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 2462). Others start when the “cause of action arises” or when “liability arises.” See, e.g., McMahon v. United States, 342 U.S. 25, 27, 72 S.Ct. 17, 96 L.Ed. 26 (1951) (interpreting Suits in Admiralty Act); Bay Area Laundry, 522 U.S. at 201, 118 S.Ct. 542 (interpreting 29 U.S.C. § 1451(f)(1) ). And we have little doubt that an exhaustive search would yield still other variations—some subtle, some stark. This appeal does not implicate the less-determinate language of those statutes, however. . . We conclude by emphasizing that our holding today does nothing to undermine the doctrine of equitable tolling. Indeed, we have already recognized the availability of equitable tolling for civil suits alleging an FDCPA violation. See Glover v. F.D.I.C., 698 F.3d 139, 151 (3d Cir. 2012) (considering and rejecting an equitable tolling argument where no extraordinary barrier existed to plaintiff’s suit). We do not reach the question in this case only because Rotkiske failed to raise it on appeal. Accordingly, our opinion should not be read to foreclose the possibility that equitable tolling might apply to FDCPA violations that involve fraudulent, misleading, or self-concealing conduct. See, e.g., Bailey v. Glover, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 342, 348, 22 L.Ed. 636 (1874) (“[W]here the party injured by the fraud remains in ignorance of it without any fault or want of diligence or care on his part, the bar … does not begin to run until the fraud is discovered, though there be no special circumstances or efforts on the part of the party committing the fraud to conceal it ….”). Civil actions alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act must be filed within one year from the date of the violation. Because Rotkiske’s action was filed well after that period expired, his action was untimely.