In U.S. Bank N.A. v. Bartram, ____ So.3d ____, 2014 WL 1632138 (Fla. 5th DCA April 25, 2014), the Fifth District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida reversed a decision from the Circuit Court of St. Johns County addressing whether the acceleration of payments due under a note and mortgage in a dismissed foreclosure action triggers application of the statute of limitations. Reversing the trial court, the Fifth DCA held that the statute of limitations did not prevent a foreclosure action based upon a subsequent and separate default, even if the statutory period had expired.
The District Court of Appeals relied in large part on Singleton v. Greymar Associates, 882 So.2d 1004 (Fla. 2004). The Singleton Court held that a dismissal of prejudice in a mortgage foreclosure action does not bar a subsequent foreclosure action on the same mortgage, even if the mortgagee accelerated the note in the first suit. The Fifth District Court notably determined that:
"... if a new and independent right to accelerate exists in a res judicata analysis, there is no reason it would not also exist via-a-vis a statute of limitations issue. A new and independent right to accelerate would have to mean that the new defaults presented new causes of action, regardless of the fact their due dates had been accelerated in a prior suit."
U.S. Bank v. Bartram, 2014 WL 1632138, at *6 (Fla. 5th DCA April 25, 2014).
Because a "subsequent, separate default creates a new and independent right to accelerate payment in a second foreclosure action where the lender triggered acceleration of the debt in the prior [foreclosure action]," a Bank may bring a second foreclosure action so long as it is brought within the new limitations period. Id. at *6. This is a big win for financial institutions across Florida as they continue to foreclose on loans that defaulted more than five years ago.