SW Legal studies in Business

Statute of Limitations for Fraud Begins to Run When Fraud Discovered, Not Started

Description Appeals court held that the four-year statute of limitations for a suit for fraud begins to run when the fraud victim learns of the fraud. The fraud began in 1990, but was not discovered until 1998, which is the date that the statute of limitations to begin to run.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Statute of Limitations; Fraud
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Plaintiffs, residents of Mexico who spoke only Spanish, purchased a policy from Union Central Life Insurance through Union Central's agent in Miami, who visited them in Mexico. The policy purchased in 1990 stated that for the $12,000 a year premium, the policy provided retirement benefits at age 65. In 1998, the plaintiffs learned that there were no retirement benefits, the policy was only for life insurance. They sued Union Central and the agent for fraud. The trial court dismissed the suit because the statute of limitations for fraud is four years. Plaintiffs appealed.
Decision

Reversed. The Florida statute states: "An action for fraud ... must be begun within the period prescribed in this chapter, with the period running from the time the facts giving rise to the cause of action were discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence...." The plaintiffs have a cause of action for fraud. They did not learn of the fraud, and had no reason to know of it until it was shown to them in 1998. There was an ongoing fraud that began in 1990 and continued to 1998, as plaintiffs continued to make premium payments. Hence, the statute of limitations did not start to run until 1998. Since the case was filed in 2000, it will proceed.

Citation Lopez-Infante v. Union Central Life Ins. Co., So.2d (2002 WL 54051, Ct. App., Fla., 2002)

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