The statute of limitations on a Pennsylvania judgment governs the maximum amount of time within which a judgment holder can collect or “execute” on his judgment. A judgment is an entry entered on a court’s docket that signifies that a plaintiff has prevailed in his civil lawsuit against the named defendant. Once a court issues a judgment, the plaintiff then becomes a judgment creditor and the defendant, a judgment debtor.
Rule 1035.2(a) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure is a procedural device that allows judgment to be entered on behalf of one of the parties to the lawsuit without the need for a trial. The legal standard for granting a summary judgment motion is that no genuine issue of material fact exists (debtor/defendant used the card and incurred the charges) and as such, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In the absence of a legitimate defense to repayment on the part of the debtor, a credit card company could seek to obtain a summary judgment ruling from the court, and if successful, would not need to proceed to trial.
A summary judgment order granted by a court has the full force and effect of a judgment rendered after a trial on the merits. Once a credit card company is awarded summary judgment for damages in the amount of the balance owed, the card company could avail itself of the various post-judgment collection procedures authorized by law. In Pennsylvania, these include attaching a debtor’s assets or securing a lien against his real property. Under Pennsylvania law, a judgment debtor’s wages cannot be garnished to satisfy a credit card judgment.
Four-Year Limitations Period
42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5525 provides a four-year statute of limitations period for the collection of judgments. A judgment creditor has four years from the date the judgment was issued by the court to seek satisfaction of his judgment for money damages against the judgment debtor.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Civil Action
It is important to note that the statute of limitations on judgments is separate and distinct from the statute of limitations period for filing a civil suit. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations for bringing an action to recover the default balance on a credit card is four years. A credit card company seeking to recover the delinquent balance owed by the card holder must file a civil in action in court within four years from the date the card holder was in default pursuant to the terms and conditions of the credit card agreement.