RCW 4.16.230, the statute of limitations is tolled when the
commencement of an action is stayed by a statutory
prohibition. Under the federal bankruptcy code, actions to
foreclose on a debtor's property are stayed while the
property at issue is part of the bankruptcy estate. We are
asked to determine whether the bankruptcy stay is a statutory
prohibition that tolls the statute of limitations. We
conclude that it is.
Merceri defaulted on a home loan in 2008. Deutsche Bank and
its predecessor in interest (Deutsche) initiated foreclosure
proceedings on several occasions between 2008 and 2015 but
did not complete a foreclosure sale. For over two years
during this period a bankruptcy stay was in place.
2015, Merceri asserted a variety of claims against Deutsche
and alleged that Deutsche's interest in her home was
unenforceable. In 2016, Merceri sought partial summary
judgment on the theory that Deutsche's foreclosure claim
was time barred. She asserted that a six year statute of
limitations began to run on Deutsche's claim in 2008 and
the statute expired in 2014. Deutsche moved to amend its
answer to assert a counterclaim for judicial foreclosure. The
trial court ruled that Deutsche's interest was time
barred and granted Merceri's motion for, partial summary
judgment. But because the statute of limitations was tolled
during the bankruptcy stay, we reverse.
took out a $2.8 million home loan in 2006 and defaulted in
2008. In August 2008, Deutsche sent Merceri a notice of
default. A notice of trustee's sale was recorded in 2009
but the sale did not occur. Another notice of trustee's
sale was recorded in June 2010. In November 2010, Merceri
petitioned for chapter 7 bankruptcy. Her home remained part
of the bankruptcy estate until December 4, 2012.
initiated nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings in 2014. These
proceedings were discontinued when Merceri sought foreclosure
mediation. Deutsche and Merceri participated in mediation but
were unable to reach an agreement. In September 2015,
Deutsche again recorded a notice of trustee's sale.
December 2015, Merceri filed the complaint in this action.
She alleged that Deutsche failed to follow a number of
statutory procedures and engaged in other wrongdoing,
including manipulation of the LIBOR (London Interbank Offered
Rate). Merceri sought damages and a declaration that
Deutsche's interest in her property was unenforceable.
The foreclosure sale was continued.
2016, Merceri moved for partial summary judgment, arguing
that Deutsche's claim on her home was time barred.
Merceri asserted that the home loan had been accelerated in
2008, a six year statute of limitations began to run at that
time, and the limitation period expired in 2014.
response, Deutsche moved to amend its answer to add a
counterclaim for judicial foreclosure. Deutsche disputed that
the loan was accelerated in 2008. But even if it was,
Deutsche contended that its claim was not time barred because
the statute of limitations was tolled during the bankruptcy
stay, during foreclosure mediation, and while nonjudicial
foreclosure proceedings were pending.
trial court granted Merceri's motion for partial summary
judgment. The court denied Deutsche's motion to amend and
Deutsche's motion for reconsideration. The court granted
Deutsche's motion to certify the question of whether the
statute of limitations is tolled during a bankruptcy stay.
This court granted discretionary review.
trial court certified for review the question:
Even though 11 U.S.C. § 108(c)(1) does not, itself, toll
a state statute of limitations, is RCW 4.16.230 a state
statute incorporated into section 108(c)(1) to toll the
statute of limitations during a bankruptcy stay? Cf Hazel
v. Van Beek. 135 Wn.2d 45, 64-66, 954 P.2d 1301 (1998).
Papers (CP) at 733. Certified questions are questions of law
that we review de novo. Allen v. Dameron. 187 Wn.2d
692. 701. 389 P.3d 487 (2017V Where the question certified
pertains to a motion for summary judgment, we perform the
same inquiry as the trial court, considering the legal
question in light of the record that was before the
certified question in this case involves interpretation of
the tolling provision in RCW 4.16.230 and its relation to the
bankruptcy code. Our goal when interpreting statutes is to
effect the intent of the legislature. Rivas v. Overlake
Hosp. Medical Center. 164 Wn.2d 261, 266-67, 189 P.3d
753 (2008) (citing Wright v. Jeckle. 158 Wn.2d 375,
379, 144 P.3d 301 (2006)). We discern legislative intent from
the plain meaning of the text and the statutory scheme as a
whole, id. We must "consider that tolling provisions, by