law-limitations-debt | affirmative defenses | Statute of Limitations
TEXAS STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS GOVERNING DEBT
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.004(a)(3) (Vernon 2002) (person must bring
suit on action for debt not later than four years after day cause of action accrues).
A four-year statute of limitations applies to contract actions. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem.
Code Ann. § 16.004 (Vernon 2002). A breach of contract claim accrues at the time of
breach. Stine v. Stewart, 80 S.W.3d 586, 592 (Tex. 2002). When recovery is sought
on an obligation payable in installments, the statute of limitations runs against each
installment from the time it becomes due. Intermedics, Inc. v. Grady, 683 S.W.2d
842, 845 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1984, writ ref'd n.r.e.). Thus, a suit for the
breach of a contract requiring payment in periodic installments may include all
payments due within the four-year statute of limitations period, even if the initial
breach was beyond the limitations period. Recovery of any payment more than four
years overdue is barred. Hollander v. Capon, 853 S.W.2d 723, 726-27 (Tex.App.-
Houston [1st Dist.] 1993, writ denied).
Limitations is an affirmative defense on which Mikkelsen had the burden of proof. See Provident Life &
Accident Ins. Co. v. Knott, 128 S.W.3d 211, 220 (Tex. 2003) (party alleging affirmative defense of
limitations must prove statute of limitations applies as well as date on which limitations commenced); see
also Carlisle Corp. v. Med. City Dallas, Ltd., 196 S.W.3d 855, 861 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006), rev'd in part on
other grounds, 251 S.W.3d 55 (Tex. 2008). To prevail on appeal, the party with the burden of proof at trial
must demonstrate the evidence conclusively established all vital facts in support of the issue. See Carlisle
Corp., 196 S.W.3d at 861.
TERENCE A. MIKKELSEN v. PHILLIP H. PURDIE; from Dallas County; 5th district
(05-07-01759-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 02-18-09, pet. denied June 2009))(limitations did not bar debt claim)
The evidence at trial showed, and the trial court found, the last payment made by Mikkelsen to Purdie was
on August 7, 2002 in the amount of $2000. Likewise, the trial court found suit was filed by Purdie against
Mikkelsen on April 29, 2004. Mikkelsen does not attack either of these findings of fact. The trial court
concluded Purdie's “right to collection of such indebtedness is not barred by any statute of limitations.” The
trial court made no mention of any exceptions to the statute of limitations, nor does Mikkelsen explain on
appeal why an exception must apply in this case. Because Purdie filed suit against Mikkelsen within fifteen
months of the date of the last payment was remitted, we cannot conclude the trial court erred in finding
Purdie's claims were not barred by the four-year statute of limitations.