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McGreevey v. PHH Mortgage Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 26, 2018

Jacob McGreevey, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
PHH Mortgage Corporation; Northwest Trustee Services, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued and Submitted June 5, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington No. 3:16-cv-05339-RJB Robert J. Bryan, Senior District Judge, Presiding

          Sean J. Riddell (argued), Law Office of Sean J. Riddell, Portland, Oregon, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Matthew Sheldon (argued) and Jaime Ann Santos, Goodwin Procter LLP, Washington, D.C.; John S. Devlin, III, Lane Powell PC, Seattle, Washington; for Defendant-Appellee PHH Mortgage Corporation.

          Before: Jay S. Bybee and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges, and John Antoon II, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY [**]

         Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

         The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal as time-barred of a private suit alleging violations of § 303(c) of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides a limited prohibition on foreclosure of the property of servicemembers.

         The panel held that the federal catchall statute of limitations in 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a) applies to private suits alleging violations of § 303(c) of the SCRA, an Act of Congress enacted after 1990. Because § 1658(a), like the state statute relied upon by the district court, specifies a four-year limitations period, the panel affirmed.

         Tovah Calderon and Christine A. Monta, Attorneys, Appellate Section; T.E. Wheeler, II, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington D.C.; for Amicus Curiae United States of America.

         Denise Gale Fjordbeck, Assistant Attorney General; Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General; Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General; Civil/Administrative Appeals, Oregon Department of Justice, Salem, Oregon; for Amicus Curiae State of Oregon.

          OPINION

          ANTOON, DISTRICT JUDGE

         This appeal presents an issue of first impression-what is the applicable statute of limitations for private suits alleging violations of § 303(c)[1] of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)?[2] Section 303(c) provides a limited prohibition on foreclosure of the property of servicemembers, but the SCRA does not contain a statute of limitations. The district court, applying the four-year limitations period of what it determined to be the most closely analogous state statute, found that Plaintiff Jacob McGreevey's § 303(c) claim was time-barred and dismissed the case. McGreevey appeals.[3]

         After carefully considering the parties' briefs, and with the benefit of oral argument, we conclude that the federal catchall statute of limitations in 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a) applies to private suits alleging violations of § 303(c) of the SCRA. Because that provision, like the state statute relied upon by the district court, also specifies a four-year limitations period, we affirm.

         I

         In 2006 McGreevey, a United States Marine, refinanced the mortgage on his home in Vancouver, Washington, with Defendant PHH Mortgage Corporation (PHH Mortgage). By January 16, 2009, PHH Mortgage and Defendant Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. (Northwest)[4] had initiated foreclosure proceedings. Four months later, on May 18, 2009, the Marines recalled McGreevey to active service in Iraq. On July 21, 2010, after McGreevey completed his service in Iraq, the Marines released him from military duty. Following his release, McGreevey promptly advised Defendants of his military service and ...


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