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New York Statute of Limitations – Enforcement of Money Judgments (NY CPLR section 211(b))

In this post, I’m continuing my travels through New York’s statutes of limitations. In prior posts, I went over the statutes of limitation for fraud as well as wrongful death. In this post, I’m going to talk about enforcement of money judgments. In more plain language, enforcement of judgments refers to the act of collecting on a judgment (e.g. that defendant pay $50,000 to plaintiff) that a court renders in favor of a winning party in a civil case against the losing party. The statute of limitations for enforcement of judgments refers to the time period within which that collection activity has to take place.

In New York, the statute of limitation for enforcement of money judgments is 20 years. If you’re interested — and I know you are — the governing statute here is section 211(b) of New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR). Section 211 states:

“On a money judgment. A money judgment is presumed to be paid and satisfied after the expiration of twenty years from the time when the party recovering it was first entitled to enforce it.This presumption is conclusive, except as against a person who within the twenty years acknowledges an indebtedness, or makes a payment, of all or part of the amount recovered by the judgment, or his heir or personal representative, or a person whom he otherwise represents. Such an acknowledgment must be in writing and signed by the person to be charged. Property acquired by an enforcement order or by levy upon an execution is a payment, unless the person to be charged shows that it did not include property claimed by him. If such an acknowledgment or payment is made, the judgment is conclusively presumed to be paid and satisfied as against any person after the expiration of twenty years after the last acknowledgment or payment made by him. The presumption created by this subdivision may be availed of under an allegation that the action was not commenced within the time limited.”

Section 211(b) goes over other stuff also, such as exemptions and acknowledgements, which I will not go over here. If you’re interested in that, let me know and I may cover it in a future post.

One part I will go over — because I go over it in my other posts on New York’s statute of limitations — is when the 20 years starts. The proverbial clock starts as soon as the judgment is entered by the court rendering it. As a general rule of thumb, the statute of limitations clock begins when all of the required elements for that particular item you’re suing for have occurred. In other cases — which are too complicated to explain here — there can be a question of the plaintiff not knowing that all of the required elements have occurred. This can result in a part — possibly a large part — of the statute of limitations period passing without the plaintiff’s knowledge.

As an aside, I’ll also mention that if you’re dealing with a non-monetary judgment of some kind, the statute of limitations within which you have to enforce that judgment is only 6 years instead of 20. The statute for that is Section 213(1) of the CPLR. That section is a bit disappointing, though, as all it basically says is that a 6 year statute applies to any  “action for which no limitation is specifically prescribed by law”.

As always, I hope this post was helpful. It is not meant to be a comprehensive or exhaustive discussion of the topic presented. If you are going to rely on the information presented here, you should do your own research as it is entirely possible that the law may have changed in the time between when this post was written and when you’re reading it. If you do have a situation in which the statute of limitations for a judgment enforcement is important, please do find an attorney in your area with whom you can discuss your case.

Lastly, as with all my other New York posts, I have to say the following: As of this writing, I do not maintain a physical office in New York state. Thus, even though I am licensed to practice law in New York, under Section 470 of New York’s Judiciary Law, I cannot represent clients in New York state. Even so, I do know several lawyers in New York and if one of them is in a position to help you, I would be happy to refer you.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

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