Can Claim Be Dismissed Because of Expiration of Statute of Limitations? – Christopher

“Dear Steve,

I received a Summons to appear in Civil Court. The Plaintiff is a collection agency, attempting to collect over $18,000. The Summons included a fax cover sheet from Chase Bank, with whom I had an account years ago. I live in Missouri, and the SOL for open accounts is 5 yrs. My credit report indicates that the account was “Charged off as bad Debt” in August of 2002. This comes from a TransUnion Credit Report. I really don’t know beyond the information from my credit report, how to produce evidence that supports my defense about the Statute of Limitations having expired. Do you have any advice?

Any assistance or advice is greatly appreciated. I am pretty scared about court–I’ve never been summoned before. Thank you! Question Can I defend myself in court, asking that the claim be dismissed, based on the expiration of the Statute of Limitations?


I asked my friend Mike Killian to answer your question for you. I wanted to make sure you got an answer as quickly as possible as I’m a bit backed up at the moment. I’ll be watching the comments on this question and be around to help if you need me.

Dear Christopher,

Here are a couple of thoughts on your note. First of all the “charge off” comment on your report is nothing more than an accounting term for the creditor and has no meaning for you, the client. It is still a legal debt owed by you unless forgiven by a court. Secondly, you asked if you can defend yourself in court and yes you can. You can also ask that it be dismissed based on the expiration of the Statute of Limitations (SOL).

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That does not mean you will win. You really need to ask an attorney familiar with SOL in your state to insure the type contract you think you have is in reality the correct type and with the correct amount of time on the SOL. For example, your particular state shows 10 years for “Written agreement that contemplates the payment of money…”. That may be what is being sought. Under those conditions you are still within the SOL.

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On the other hand I have known creditors to come after a client well after the SOL and even after it has dropped off the credit report. It is still a legally owed debt and can be collected. It is simply that the collection has very little to bite with since it already dropped off the credit report.

Especially if you might loose your court hearing, you could contact the creditor and see if any payment arrangements could be made for repayment. At a minimum, the only other recourse I can think of would be bankruptcy and you definitely want to consider your assets and liabilities for that one. To be safe I encourage you to talk to an attorney and get legal advice for your particular state.

Good luck,


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Mike Killian is founder of Learning Credit and Debt Management. He has been writing and teaching about credit and debt management issues for over 12 years. His articles have been referenced by various members of the media, including MSNBC and The Motley Fool. Mike has also offered debt elimination seminars to businesses and community colleges for many years.He has an MS in counseling and is a nationally certified as a Personal Finance Counselor. Mike can be found at LearnCreditManagement.com/.