In Faircloth v. AR Res., Inc., No. 19-cv-05830-JCS, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28335 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 19, 2020), Judge Spero found that the discovery rule did not apply to either the FDCPA or Rosenthal Act.
1. The Discovery Rule Does Not Apply to the FDCPA. Defendant claims that the FAC should be dismissed because claims brought under the FDCPA and the RFDCPA must be filed no later than one year from the date of the alleged violation. Reply at 2. It points to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Rotkiske, 140 S. Ct. 355, 205 L. Ed. 2d 291, which was decided after Plaintiff filed his opposition. In Rotkiske, the Supreme Court considered whether the discovery rule applies to claims brought under the FDCPA. The Court found that it did not: “absent the application of an equitable doctrine, the statute of limitations in § 1692k(d) begins to run on the date on which the alleged FDCPA violation occurs, not the date on which the violation is discovered.” 140 S. Ct. at 357. Section 1692k(d) of the FDCPA reads: “An action to enforce any liability created by this subchapter may be brought in any appropriate United States district court without regard to the amount in controversy, or in any other court of competent jurisdiction, within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.” All nine Justices agreed that the plain language of the statute indicates that the discovery rule does not apply to claims brought under the FDCPA. Id. at 357; 362 (Sotomayor, J., concurring); id. (Ginsburg, J., dissenting from the opinion in part and from the judgment). Plaintiff claims that the offense began when Defendant reported the debt on June 21, 2018. Resolving all ambiguities in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the FDCPA offense occurred on July 14, 2018, when Plaintiff received the letter. FAC ¶¶ 9-10. Under § 1692k(d), then, Plaintiff must have filed the original Complaint on or before July 14, 2019, a year from the date of the offense. Plaintiff does not specifically identify any other offenses, nor does [*18] he allege that Defendant’s September 21, 2018 communication violated the FDCPA. See FAC ¶ 11-12. Because Plaintiff did not file the Complaint before that date, the only way he can bring his claim under the FDCPA based on the July 2018 letter is through the application of an equitable exception to the statute of limitations.
2. The Discovery Rule Does Not Apply to the RFDCPA Federal courts in this circuit reviewing claims brought under both the FDCPA and the RFDCPA have addressed the issue of timeliness under both statutes simultaneously. See, e.g., Norton v. LVNV Funding, 396 F. Supp. 3d 901, 912 (N.D. Cal. 2019); Kottle v. Law Offices of Patenaude & Felix A.P.C, No. 13-CV-161-H-BGS, 2013 WL 12075974, at *2 (S.D. Cal. May 16, 2013); Taymuree v. Nat’l Collegiate Student Loan Tr. 2007-2, No. 16-CV-06138-YGR, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35824, 2017 WL 952962, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2017). Courts in California treat the RFDCPA as the FDCPA’s “Califonia state counterpart.” Cavalry SPV I, LLC v. Watkins, 36 Cal. App. 5th 1070, 1084 n.7, 249 Cal. Rptr. 3d 334 (Ct. App. 2019), review denied (Oct. 16, 2019) (citing Davidson v. Seterus, Inc. 21 Cal. App.5th 283, 295, 230 Cal. Rptr. 3d 441 (2018)); see also Alborzian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 235 Cal. App. 4th 29, 36, 185 Cal. Rptr. 3d 84 (2015) (“[T]he viability of most of plaintiffs’ letter-based claims . . . boils down to whether plaintiffs can state a claim under the FDCPA. That is because the Rosenthal Act, among other things, explicitly incorporates the FDCPA’s standards.”). However, the two statutes are not identical. See Citibank, N.A. v. MacDonald, No. H042010, 2017 WL 2812923, at *8 (Cal. Ct. App. June 29, 2017) (“The [RFDCPA] does not exactly mirror the FDCPA. It contains its own definition of debt collector.”) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.2(c)). While the California Supreme Court has not addressed whether the discovery rule is applicable to claims brought under the RFDCPA, the court has applied the discovery rule in other contexts, such as the UCL. See Aryeh v. Canon Bus. Sols., Inc., 55 Cal. 4th 1185, 1193, 151 Cal. Rptr. 3d 827, 292 P.3d 871 (2013). In California, “[a] statute will be construed in light of common law decisions, unless its language clearly and unequivocally discloses an intention to depart from, alter, or abrogate the common-law rule concerning a particular subject matter.” People v. Zikorus, 150 Cal. App. 3d 324, 330, 197 Cal. Rptr. 509 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Li v. Yellow Cab Co., 13 Cal. 3d 804, 815, 119 Cal. Rptr. 858, 532 P.2d 1226 (1975)). The language of the RFDCPA’s timeliness section is similar to the language the Supreme Court found made the discovery rule inapplicable to the FDCPA. Compare Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.30(f) (“Any action under this section may be brought in any appropriate court of competent jurisdiction in an individual capacity only, within one year from the date of the occurrence of the violation.”) (emphasis added) with 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(d) (“An action to enforce any liability created by this subchapter may be brought in any appropriate United States district court without regard to the amount in controversy, or in any other court of competent jurisdiction, within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.”) (emphasis added). The California Supreme Court has not considered whether the language of the RFDCPA is unambiguous enough to justify supplanting the discovery rule. This Court is persuaded by the reasoning of the Supreme Court in Rotkiske that the language of the statute unambiguously gives claimants a year from the occurrence of the violation to bring their claims. Because of the similarities between the language in the FDCPA and the RFDCPA, and because of California state courts generally treat the RFDCPA as a state version of the FDCPA, the Court holds that the discovery rule does not apply to the RFDCPA.