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

Chloe Meltzer | December 02, 2022

Summary: Trying to find the right defense for your debt collection lawsuit? It's time to pull out all the stops! Here's how to get a case dismissed without prejudice on statute of limitations.

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.

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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"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


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