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How to get a case dismissed without prejudice on statute of limitations

Chloe Meltzer | April 11, 2024

Legal Expert
Chloe Meltzer, MA

Chloe Meltzer is an experienced content writer specializing in legal content creation. She holds a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University, complemented by a Master’s in Marketing from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Fact-checked by George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD/MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

Summary: You can use the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in your case to get it dismissed without prejudice. Just be sure to include it in your response when you file an Answer into the case.

When it comes to a debt collection case there are many terms to learn and processes to understand. Although you might feel like there is no way out of debt, there are often ways to get around being forced to pay the full amount that you owe. Whether this is through settlement, paying a lump sum, or even because of laws listed in the statute of limitations.

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Understanding the statute of limitations

The statute of limitations are laws that set the maximum time limit for being sued for a debt. This period is typically between three to six years but varies based on the state you live in, as well as the nature of the offense.

Essentially it is a time limit for cases to be filed. Cases that are not filed before this time will expire and be considered time-barred. At this point, the case cannot be re-filed. Certain things will toll, or delay, the statute of limitations. If it is being “tolled”, then the time limit to file a case does not run. It is important to note that a dismissal without prejudice does not toll the statute of limitations. Therefore, when a case gets dismissed without prejudice, it is treated as though it was never filed, and any case re-filed after the statute expires will be dismissed for another time.

Every debt has a specific period within the statute of limitations, and the date begins the last time you made a payment on the debt. If you were to make another payment, this will start the statute of limitations over again.

Even if a case is dismissed without prejudice it will not delay the statute of limitations. This is because the statute of limitations always has a specific period. In addition, all cases that have been dismissed without prejudice can be re-filed, and when they are, they will need to comply with the statute of limitations.

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The meaning of “dismissed without prejudice”

“Dismissed without prejudice” is used in both civil and criminal law. It means that a case has been dismissed, but it can be re-filed again at a later date. If a case were to be “dismissed with prejudice”, it means that it is officially over and cannot be reopened or re-filed.

When a civil case is dismissed without prejudice, it means that the plaintiff may be able to correct errors in their side of the argument. This allows them to bring the case forward again. Should a criminal case be dismissed without prejudice, then the prosecutor can re-file the charges again.

There are two methods in which a case can be dismissed without prejudice, voluntarily, by the plaintiff, or involuntarily, by the judge.

Involuntary dismissal of cases without prejudice by the court

A case can be dismissed without prejudice involuntarily. Involuntary dismissal is when a case is dismissed by the court. Typically a judge will do this because the plaintiff has objected in some way. Reasons for this might include:

  • Lack of subject matter jurisdiction: This is when the court does not have the legal power to oversee this type of case.
  • Lack of personal jurisdiction: In some cases, a court does not have the power to dictate what a defendant must do.
  • Improper venue: When a different court should hear the case.
  • Improper service: When a defendant never legally received the lawsuit.

In most situations, a court will only dismiss a case when requested by the defendant. It is rare for a judge to dismiss a case on their own after the defendant is involved. Typically defendants ask a court to throw a case away by filing what is called a “motion to dismiss”. This asks the court to end the case and offers a reason why they believe it should be done.

After the motion is filed, the plaintiff will have the opportunity to respond to the motion. If the plaintiff's response is not persuasive enough, then the case is usually dismissed. Judges have the right to choose to allow the plaintiff to fix the case. If this occurs, then the case is dismissed without prejudice. At this point, the plaintiff can go back and correct the mistake in the lawsuit and refile it when ready.

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Cases dismissed voluntarily

Plaintiffs can voluntarily dismiss their case without prejudice if they wish, but it typically only occurs for the following reasons:

  • The plaintiff wants to move their case into, or from, small claims court
  • The plaintiff wishes to move their lawsuit to file it in a different state
  • The plaintiff wants to take their state court claim to federal court, or back to state court

When a criminal case gets dismissed with prejudice, prosecutors are no longer able to bring the same charges again. This is according to the constitutional right against double jeopardy. Despite this, in many cases, prosecutors might be able to bring completely different charges to the same person.

Essentially, the best way to get a case dismissed on the statute of limitations is to let the statute expire. By doing this, it is considered a time-barred debt, and legally you can no longer be sued for the debt. It is important to note that if the case is not dismissed without prejudice, then your case can be reopened. Should you wish for it to be closed, you will need to work to have it dismissed with prejudice and closed once and for all.

Now, let's look at some FAQs on dismissing a case without prejudice.

What is the statute of limitations on a case dismissed without prejudice?

The statute of limitations on a case dismissed without prejudice is the same as it was before the case was filed and dismissed. So, in other words, a dismissal without prejudice doesn’t affect the statute of limitations.

For example, if you live in Texas, got sued for credit card debt, and the case got dismissed without prejudice, the statute of limitations on that debt is still four years from the time of the last activity on the account.

How long can a case be dismissed without prejudice?

A case can be dismissed without prejudice for as long as it takes the plaintiff to file a new case for the same claim. If the statute of limitations expires before the plaintiff files a new case, they might not have legal grounds to open up the new case.

Can a case be reopened if it was dismissed without prejudice?

Yes, a case can essentially be reopened if it was dismissed without prejudice, but it would technically be reopened as a new case for the same claim. As long as the plaintiff is within the statute of limitations and no other state or federal laws prohibit it, they can reopen a case that was dismissed without prejudice.

How to dismiss a case without prejudice

If you’ve filed a court case and you want to dismiss it without prejudice, you must submit a motion to dismiss the case, also known as a request for dismissal. Here’s what a motion to dismiss without prejudice looks like:

If you’ve been sued and are hoping to see a case dismissed without prejudice, the best way is to respond to the claims against you and deny as many as possible. If the claims can’t be proven, there is a chance the plaintiff will move to dismiss without prejudice.

In your Answer, you can also bring up affirmative defenses like the statute of limitations to get the case dismissed. This is kind of like saying, yes, the claim is true, but the statute of limitations is up so the claim is no longer valid from a legal standpoint.

Use the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in your debt lawsuit.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

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