Michael Collins, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Village of Palatine, Illinois, Defendant-Appellee.
February 7, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 16 C 3814 -
Matthew F. Kennelly, Judge.
Bauer, Posner, [*] and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
plaintiff files a complaint on behalf of a proposed class,
the statute of limitations for the claim is tolled for each
member of the class. Am. Pipe & Constr. Co. v.
Utah, 414 U.S. 538, 550 (1974). The tolling continues
until the case is "stripped of its character as a class
action." United Airlines, Inc. v. McDonald, 432
U.S. 385, 393 (1977) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 advisory
committee's note to 1966 amendment). This
"stripping" occurs immediately when a district
judge denies class certification, dismisses the case for lack
of subject-matter jurisdiction without deciding the
class-certification question, or otherwise dismisses the case
without prejudice. The question before us is whether a
dismissal with prejudice also strips a case of its
class-action character. The district court concluded that it
does. We agree and adopt a simple and uniform rule: Tolling
stops immediately when a class-action suit is dismissed-with
or without prejudice-before the class is certified.
summer day in June 2007, a police officer in the Village of
Palatine issued a parking ticket to Michael Collins. When
Collins returned to his car later that day, he found the
bright yellow ticket under his car's windshield wiper
blades. The ticket listed personal information about him,
including his name, address, driver's license number,
date of birth, sex, height, and weight. Collins claims that
the display of his personal information violated the
Driver's Privacy Protection Act ("DPPA"), 18
U.S.C. §§ 2721 et. seq. So on March 29,
2016, he sued the Village of Palatine on behalf of himself
and a proposed class.
the long delay in filing suit-almost nine years-would be
fatal to his claim; the DPPA's statute of limitations is
four years. But the timeliness of Collins's claim is
complicated by the earlier filing of a nearly identical class
complaint against Palatine.
Senne faced a similar ticketing scenario. He left his car
illegally parked overnight, and a Palatine police officer
placed a parking ticket displaying his personal information
on the car's windshield. On August 27, 2010, Senne sued
on behalf of himself and all similarly situated individuals
alleging that Palatine violated the DPPA. Because the lawsuit
was brought as a class action, the filing of the complaint
tolled the DPPA's statute of limitations for everyone in
the proposed class.
case had a short life in the district court. On September 22,
2010, before Senne filed a motion to certify a class, the
district court granted Palatine's motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. A panel of this court affirmed the
dismissal, but the full court reheard the case and reversed.
See Senne v. Village of Palatine, 695 F.3d 597,
599-600 (7th Cir. 2012) (en banc).
remand Senne moved to certify a class. The district judge
heard argument on the motion but deferred ruling, instead
inviting Palatine to file a motion for summary judgment.
Palatine complied. The judge entered summary judgment for the
Village and "terminated" the motion for class
certification as moot. See Senne v. Village of
Palatine, 6 F.Supp.3d 786, 797 (N.D. 111. 2013). We
affirmed, Senne v. Village of Palatine, 784 F.3d 444
(7th Cir. 2015), and on November 2, 2015, the Supreme Court
denied certiorari, 136 S.Ct. 419 (2015).
day the Supreme Court denied certiorari, Senne's
attorney, Martin Murphy, filed a successor class action on
behalf of himself and a proposed class. His complaint was
just a placeholder to preserve the class's claims. Murphy
later filed this suit naming Collins as the class representa-
tive; he then sought voluntary dismissal of his own
moved to dismiss, arguing that Collins's claim was
time-barred because the statute of limitations resumed when
the district court dismissed Senne's lawsuit. Collins
responded (through Murphy, his counsel) that the dismissal on
timeliness grounds was inappropriate at the pleadings stage,
and even if procedurally proper, the suit was timely because
the limitations period was tolled until the Supreme Court
denied Senne's petition for certiorari. He also
separately moved to certify a class.
judge agreed with Palatine that Collins's claim was
time-barred and granted the motion to dismiss. The judge
summarily denied the motion for class certification,
apparently on mootness ...