I have debt from Hawaii, and now live in Virginia. What is the statute of limitations in each, and which applies to me?
I have a variety of old debt that was both acquired, charged off, and sold (multiple times) to third party collectors over the last five years (approximately). All of this debt was acquired while I was a resident of Hawaii. I have since left the island and am now a resident of Virginia as of late 2009. Which statute of limitations applies? The state the debt was acquired in or the state of my current residence? I have both a legal and moral obligation to settle this debt, however, an just now back in the work force after several years absence due to medical issues (the primary reason for the debt). I would like to know the facts regarding SOL as I move forward. Thanks in advance for your reply.
According to Hawaii § 657-1, the statute of limitations for debt related to a contract in Hawaii is six years.
According to Virginia § 8.01-246. Personal actions based on contracts, the statute of limitations for debt related to a written contract in Virginia is five years.
Your question seems simple, but the underlying issue crosses into what is known in the legal profession as "conflict of laws" and "remedies." Regarding the conflict of laws issue, there are many ways each state can decide how to handle a conflict of laws question in regards to a tort. (A contract dispute can be a tort.) I will not discuss them here, but the two primary are lex loci delicti, and Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws. I cannot determine for certain which approach Virginia courts follow. I state this to make it clear that my answer is by no means certain, and to encourage you to consult with a Virginia attorney with experience in contract or consumer law to receive a precise answer.
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It is likely, although not certain, that a Virginia court would use the Hawaii statute of limitations for the following reasons. First, I surmise you were a Hawaii resident when you executed the credit card agreement with the bank that issued the card. Second, I surmise you completed the transactions that resulted in the debt while in Hawaii. Third, I am guessing you received the statements and made some payments while residing in Hawaii. I am guessing that a Virginia court would apply Hawaii procedural law in the interest of fairness to both parties, because both parties had a reasonable expectation that Hawaii law would apply to both when the card contract was executed and the transactions completed.
As I mentioned, consult with a Virginia attorney for an answer to your question. He or she will be able to analyze your circumstances in detail, and give you a precise answer.
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See the Bills.com resources Collections Agencies, Collections Laws and Your State’s Statute of Limitations, and How to Tell Which Statute of Limitations Applies to Your Situation, and Statute of Limitations Laws by State to learn more about the nuances of collections, and what the statute of limitations does and does not mean.
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