Statutes of Limitations for Actions Stemming from the Alleged Fraudulent Transfer of Real Property Explained
The Second Department determined plaintiff’s actions, which stemmed from the allegation defendant had acquired a deed to his property by fraud, were timely. The court explained the statutes of limitations for actual and constructive fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, actions to quiet title, conversion by fraud, money had and received, and constructive trust. In essence, actions which have an equitable component are governed by a six-year statute of limitations:
The statute of limitations for a cause of action alleging a breach of fiduciary duty does not begin to run until the fiduciary has openly repudiated his or her obligation or the relationship has been otherwise terminated … . * * *
The statute of limitations for a cause of action sounding in breach of fiduciary duty is dependent on the relief sought. The Court of Appeals ruled in IDT Corp. v Morgan Stanley Deal Witter & Co. (12 NY3d at 139):
“New York law does not provide a single statute of limitations for breach of fiduciary duty claims. Rather, the choice of the applicable limitations period depends on the substantive remedy that the plaintiff seeks. Where the remedy sought is purely monetary in nature, courts construe the suit as alleging injury to property’ within the meaning of CPLR 214(4), which has a three-year limitations period. Where, however, the relief sought is equitable in nature, the six-year limitations period of CPLR 213(1) applies. Moreover, where an allegation of fraud is essential to a breach of fiduciary duty claim, courts have applied a six-year statute of limitations under CPLR 213(8)” (citations omitted).
Since the plaintiff’s right to the subject property is in issue, awarding damages would not be adequate. Therefore, the six-year statute of limitations for causes of action sounding in equity should be applied … . Since the second and third causes of action accrued in 2006, when the defendants allegedly acted contrary to their fiduciary obligations, to the plaintiff’s detriment, those causes of action, interposed four years later in 2010, are not time-barred.
The first cause of action, to quiet title pursuant to RPAPL article 15, is not time-barred, since the plaintiff was seized or possessed of the premises within 10 years before the commencement of the action and is in essence seeking a determination that the quitclaim deed which he executed in 2003 was part of a mortgage transaction, and not a conveyance of title (see CPLR 212[a]; Real Property Law § 320…).
The fourth cause of action, alleging conversion based upon fraud, is not time-barred, since it is governed by the statute of limitations set forth in CPLR 213(8) … .
The fifth cause of action, seeking damages for money had and received …, is equitable in nature and, therefore, the applicable statute of limitations is six years … . Since the defendants’ receipt of money occurred in 2006, and the action was commenced in 2010, the cause of action is not time-barred. Similarly, the sixth cause of action, sounding in unjust enrichment, is equitable in nature, and is not time-barred … .
The seventh cause of action alleging a constructive trust is equitable in nature and governed by a six-year statute of limitations … . The elements of a cause of action to impose a constructive trust are (1) a confidential or fiduciary relationship, (2) a promise, (3) a transfer in reliance thereon, and (4) unjust enrichment … . The cause of action accrued on the date of the “wrongful transfer” of the subject property … . Loeuis v Grushin. 2015 NY Slip Op 01926, 2nd Dept 3-11-15