SW Legal Educational Publishing

TILA's Statute of Limitations Subject to equitable Tolling
Description Consumers are not time barred from suing lender for TILA violations when the violations are concealed by misrepresentation that is not "apparent on the face" of the disclosure statement.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Truth in Lending, Disclosure Violations, Statute of Limitations, Equitable Tolling
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Ellises financed a car they bought from Royal Oldsmobile through a Retail Installment Contract (RIC) that was assigned to GMAC. The RIC stated that the $1,195 paid for an extended warranty was paid to "Mechanic." Eighteen months after buying the car, the Ellises sued, claiming the RIC violated TILA by misrepresentation, because most of the $1,195 was paid to Royal; a smaller portion was paid to "Mechanic" to cover extended warranty work. District court dismissed the suit because it was filed more than the one year allowed under TILA after the financing agreement took effect. The Ellises appealed.
Decision Reversed. TILA's statute of limitation is subject to equitable tolling, so the court is not automatically deprived of subject matter jurisdiction. Equitable tolling is the doctrine under which plaintiffs may sue after the statutory time limit has expired if they have been prevented from suing due to inequitable circumstances. Without equitable tolling, "consumers whose cause of action was fraudulently concealed from them until after a year had passed could not pursue a cause of action under TILA." However, GMAC as an assignee is not liable for the alleged TILA violations; the cause of action is against Royal.
Citation Ellis v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 160 F.3d 703 (11th Cir., 1999)

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