One of the nastier changes made to the Bankruptcy Code in 2005 was to make private student loans (i.e., not Federally insured) as non-dischargeable in a Bankruptcy as Federally insured student loans. That change did not, however, extend all student loan protections to private loans. So, private student loans are still subject to State law statutes of limitations.
A statute of limitation is the period of time within which a lawsuit must be brought or it may not be brought successfully. That statement is a little overly broad. In Oklahoma, although not in all States, a statute of limitation is an affirmative defense. That means that it must be raised by the defendant. If the defendant doesn’t raise it, the plaintiff can still win.
Anyway, back to the point. I got a call today from a woman who took out a private student loan some years ago. She filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy with another attorney in 2012. The student loan was obviously not discharged. She is now being sued on that loan by a local collection law firm. I checked the case on the Court’s online docket, and from the petition and attached documents I could tell that the first payment on the loan was due in May, 2009. No payments were made. The woman filed for Bankruptcy, and it was discharged 115 days later. If the bankruptcy did not toll the running of the statute, it ran last May. If it did, it ran 115 days later – sometime in September. The lawsuit was filed in December.
Unfortunately, it was in a different County. So, I have referred her to a lawyer closer to the action. Still, this one could be fun.