The Saving Statue (CPLR § 205(a)), which allows actions to be filed outside of the limitation period in some cases, does not operate as a chain and does not permit successive re-filings

New York



New York’s Saving Statute Does Not Allow for the Stacking of Successive Lawsuits In Ray v. Ray, No. 21-982 (2d Cir. 2021), the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that New York’s “Saving Statute” (CPLR § 205(a)) does not permit a litigant to file an otherwise untimely new action within six months of a prior action, where that prior action was, itself, only made timely by a previous application of section 205(a) (at 3 and 11).In this case, the plaintiff had invested $500,000 in the defendant’s business. Under a contract, the defendant had agreed to indemnify the plaintiff for up to $350,000. The $500,000 was lost and the plaintiff sued to recover the $350,000 (at 3).Between 2008 and 2009, the defendant, in an alleged attempt to render herself insolvent to avoid paying the debt, mortgaged property and transferred the proceeds to a corporate entity. The plaintiffs brought two actions, one in 2010 and one in 2014, both of which alleged that the conveyances were fraudulent. Both lawsuits were dismissed. In 2018, the plaintiff filed a third fraudulent conveyance action. The defendant moved to dismiss the lawsuit as time-barred based on a six-year statute of limitations (at 4).The parties agreed that the 2014 action was timely under the statute of limitations and that the 2018 action would have been untimely, but because it was brought within six months of the First Department’s February 2018 affirmance of the dismissal of the 2014 Action, its timeliness was saved by the Saving Statute. However, the parties disagreed about whether this action, which was brought within six months of the dismissal of the 2018 action, was saved by the Saving Statute (at 5).The plaintiff argued that the Saving Statue effectively operates as a chain, making each successive lawsuit timely, provided that it is filed within six months of the termination of its predecessor action (at 7).The Court rejected the plaintiff’s interpretation and noted that, under the well-established rules of statutory interpretation, the Saving Statute requires the court to determine if the action would have been timely if it had been filed at the time that the prior action was filed; that is, at the time of the prior action to which the Saving Statute links the new action. In this case, the 2018 action, which the plaintiff argued that the 2020 action was linked to under the Saving Statute, was untimely but was saved under the Saving Statute. Therefore, had the 2020 action been filed at the time of the 2018 action, it would have been untimely. As a result, the Saving Statute did not apply (at 7-8).The Court noted that if the plaintiff’s argument were accepted, the Saving Statute would permit a litigant to frustrate the statute of limitations entirely by filing new actions within six months of dismissals, in perpetuity (at 9).

April 14, 2022
Ray v. Ray, No. 21-982 (2d Cir. 2021)
Federal Courts (2nd Circuit)