JUDGMENT OF THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR BALTIMORE CITY AFFIRMED IN
PART AND REVERSED IN PART. CASE REMANDED FOR FURTHER
PROCEEDINGS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THIS OPINION. COSTS TO BE
PAID ONE-THIRD BY APPELLANT AND TWO-THIRDS BY APPELLEE.
Appellant: Scott C. Borison (Legg Law Firm, LLC, San Mateo,
CA; Philip R. Robinson, Consumer Law Center, LLC, Silver
Spring, MD) all on the brief.
Appellee: Brian L. Moffet (Zachary S. Schultz, Gordon,
Feinblatt, LLC on the brief) Baltimore, MD.
Meredith, Graeff, Friedman, JJ.
Md.App. 519] ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
appeal flows from a suit for damages and declaratory relief
filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City by Rashad Ahmad
Jason (" Jason" ), appellant, against National Loan
Recoveries, LLC (" National Loan" ),
appellee. Appellee moved to dismiss the
complaint as time barred, and the circuit court granted that
motion. Jason appealed.
" Questions Presented" in Jason's brief were
framed as follows:
1. Did the Circuit Court err in holding that the
Plaintiff's claims for declaratory relief were untimely
when they sought a declaration that outstanding judgments
obtained by Defendant were void?
2. Did the Circuit Court err in granting a Motion to Dismiss
the Plaintiff's declaratory judgment claims without
entering a declaratory judgment?
3. Did the Circuit Court err in applying the three year
limitation to Plaintiff's claims for unjust enrichment
relating to judgments obtained by the Defendant?
4. Did the Circuit Court err in determining that the
Plaintiff's claims under the [Maryland Consumer Debt
Collection Act] were time barred?
answer " yes" to question 1, which obviates the
need for us to address question 2. In response to question 3,
we conclude that a claim of unjust enrichment is subject to
the three-year statute of limitations, but, because the
record was not clear as to the date of National Loan's
alleged enrichment, the circuit court erred in granting the
motion to dismiss on that count. We answer " no" to
question 4. We will affirm in [227 Md.App. 520] part and
reverse in part, and we will remand the case for further
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
2008, National Loan, a " debt buyer," purchased
Jason's credit card debt, as to which Jason was then in
default. On January 29, 2009, National Loan filed a lawsuit
against Jason in the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore
City to collect that debt. At the time it filed suit against
Jason, National Loan did not have a license to act as a debt
collection agency in Maryland, and did not obtain a license
in Maryland until September 10, 2010. The standing of
National Loan to pursue collection of Jason's debt was
apparently never challenged in the District Court. On March
31, 2009, the District Court entered a judgment in favor of
National Loan in the amount of $1,323.39 plus $60.00 in costs
and $1,051.65 for pre-judgment interest, based upon an
affidavit filed by National Loan. Notice of the judgment was
mailed to Jason on March 31, 2009.
April 16, 2009, the District Court issued a writ of
garnishment that was served upon Jason's bank. Jason
moved to dismiss the garnishment on April 30, 2009, but
assets sufficient to satisfy the judgment were paid through
garnishment on a date that does not appear in the record. On
December 13, 2011, the District Court clerk made a docket
entry confirming that the judgment against Jason had been
30, 2013, Jason filed a complaint captioned " CLASS
ACTION COMPLAINT" in the Circuit Court for Baltimore
City, seeking relief for actions taken by National Loan in
Maryland prior to the date it became licensed as a debt
collection agency on September 10, 2010. Although Jason was
the sole plaintiff identified by name in the complaint, he
claimed that he was filing the suit " On his Behalf and
on Behalf of a Class of Persons Similarly Situated." He
alleged in the complaint that, if the court certified the
case to proceed as a class action pursuant to Maryland Rule
2-231, [227 Md.App. 521] the proposed class would include
" those persons sued by National Loan in Maryland state
courts from October 30, 2007 through September 9, 2010 for
whom National Loan obtained a judgment for an alleged debt,
interest or costs, including attorney's fees in its favor
in an attempt to collect a consumer debt." The circuit
court never acted on Jason's request to certify his case
to proceed as a class action.
complaint included five counts. In Count I, the complaint
asserted that National Loan " is not entitled to any
interest from the Plaintiff Class Members on the purported
debts since it was acting unlawfully as an unlicensed
collection agency." The relief requested in this count
included a declaration that National Loan was not entitled to
interest on any judgment " obtained illegally," and
an injunction ordering National Loan " to disgorge all
interest amounts collected from Plaintiff Class Members"
based upon judgments that had been obtained while National
Loan had acted as a collection agency without a Maryland
license. Count II was similar to Count I, but sought relief
relative to any costs and attorney's fees National Loan
had obtained as a result of judgments entered against
Plaintiff Class Members during the time National Loan had
acted as a collection agency without a Maryland license.
III sought a declaration that National Loan " did not
have legal standing to obtain any judgment in Maryland Courts
against [Jason] and Plaintiff Class Members," as well as
a declaration that the judgments it did obtain prior to being
licensed were " void and unenforceable." In
addition to the request for declaratory relief, Count III
included a request for injunctive relief requiring National
Loan to " disgorge all [227 Md.App. 522] judgment
amounts" it had collected as a result of acting as an
unlicensed collection agency.
IV alleged that National Loan had been unjustly enriched by
the " acceptance and retention" of any sums it had
received as a result of its actions to enforce void
judgments. This count included a claim for a money judgment
and attorney's fees.
asserted that the actions National Loan had taken to collect
debts in Maryland before being licensed to do so constituted
violations of Maryland Code (1975, 2005 Repl. Vol.),
Commercial Law Article (" Comm. Law" ), §
14-201, et seq. (also known as the Maryland Consumer
Debt Collection Act), and Comm. Law § 13-101, et
seq. (the Maryland Consumer Protection Act). Under the
Consumer Protection Act, Comm. Law § 13-301(14)(iii),
" [u]nfair or deceptive trade practices include any . .
. [v]iolation of a provision of . . . the Maryland Consumer
Debt Collection Act." Count V requested a money judgment
for the violations of the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection
Act, and attorney's fees and litigation expenses pursuant
to Comm. Law § 13-408.
Loan moved to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim,
arguing that Jason's complaint was filed after the
three-year statute of limitations had expired. Suit was filed
on July 30, 2013, and National Loan argued that all of the
events that Jason complained of occurred more than three
years before his complaint was filed. National Loan urged the
court to find that Jason's claims were therefore barred
by the statute of limitations generally applicable to civil
actions in Maryland. See Maryland Code (1973, 2013
Repl. Vol.), Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article ("
CJP" ), § 5-101.
Md.App. 523] Following a hearing, the circuit court concluded
that Jason's claims all arose from conduct that occurred
more than three years prior to the time he filed suit, and
the court granted National Loan's motion to dismiss ...