In late-2016, the Florida Supreme Court finally addressed the application of the statute of limitations in a re-filed mortgage foreclosure action. In Bartram v. U.S. Bank, N.A., Fl. Sup. Ct. Case No. SC14-1265 (Fla. Nov. 3, 2016), the Court ruled that the statute of limitations does not bar a lender from filing a new foreclosure action after dismissal of a prior foreclosure action, as long as there was a default within the preceding five years. Now, Florida’s appellate courts are being asked to further refine the scope of Bartram.
In Desylvester v. The Bank of New York Mellon, Fla. 2nd DCA Case No. 2D15-5053 (Fla. 2nd DCA Feb. 22, 2017), the Second District answered the question of whether a re-filed foreclosure action that relied upon an initial payment default more than five years earlier was time-barred. Applying Bartram, the Second DCA found that such a claim would not be barred because the allegation of default in the re-filed Complaint stated, not only the initial default date, but also a failure to make
all subsequent payments.
The lender was able to avoid the statute of limitations by alleging that the borrowers were in
a continuing state of default.
The Court made a point of distinguishing Desylvester from Collazo v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 41 Fla. L. Weekly D2315 (Fla. 3d DCA Oct. 13, 2016). Unlike in Desylvester, the lender in Collazo, had tried its case “on the basis of a date of default that was outside of the five-year statute of limitations period.” The continuing state of default at the time of the re-filed Complaint in Desylvester was the key distinction.
In Desylvester, the Second DCA has made clear that, when re-filing a mortgage foreclosure action based upon an initial default that is more than five years earlier, the lender must allege that the borrower continued to miss subsequent payments and remained in a continuing state of default up to the date that the new Complaint is filed.