from the Superior Court in Maricopa County The Honorable
Aimee L. Anderson, Judge No. CV2014-051213
Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division One 241 Ariz. 572
R. Vaughan (argued), Brian K. Partridge, Law Office of James
R. Vaughan, P.C., Scottsdale, Attorneys for Mertola, LLC
K. Findsen, Law Offices of Beth K. Findsen, Scottsdale;
Veronika Fabian (argued), Hyung S. Choi, Choi & Fabian,
PLC, Chandler, Attorneys for Alberto Santos and Arlene Santos
Mary Rotkis, Consumer Litigation Associates West, PLLC,
Tucson, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Arizona Chapter of the
National Association of Consumer Advocates
Sue Katz, Lisa Moore, William E. Morris Institute for
Justice, Phoenix, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Community Legal
Services, Southern Arizona Legal Aid and the William E.
Morris Institute for Justice
J. Cohen, Mesch Clark Rothschild, Tucson, Attorneys for
Amicus Curiae The National Creditor Bar Association and the
Arizona Creditor Bar Association
BRUTINEL JUSTICE authored the opinion of the Court, in which
BALES CHIEF JUSTICE, PELANDER VICE CHIEF JUSTICE, and TIMMER,
BOLICK, GOULD and LOPEZ JUSTICES joined.
BRUTINEL JUSTICE, opinion of the Court.
Mertola, LLC, sued Alberto Santos and his wife Arlene Santos
(collectively, "Santos") to collect an outstanding
credit-card debt. Although the credit-card agreement gave the
creditor the option of declaring the debt immediately due and
payable upon default, we hold that even if that option was
not exercised, the cause of action to collect the entire debt
accrued as of the date of Santos's first uncured missed
payment. Mertola's claim was barred by the statute of
limitations six years after that date pursuant to A.R.S.
Santos acquired a credit card from Washington Mutual Bank
("the Bank"). The card was issued with a $25, 000
credit limit under the terms of the Bank's Account
Agreement, which required monthly minimum payments with
interest. Under the Account Agreement, if Santos
"fail[ed] to pay any amount due," the Bank had the
right to "declare [the] Account balance immediately due
and payable." The Account Agreement further stated that
Santos waived any right to notice of acceleration.
From August 2007 to January 2008, Santos repeatedly made late
minimum payments, and pursuant to the Account Agreement the
Bank increased its finance charges and began charging late
fees. Santos missed the February 2008 payment completely and
never made another minimum payment, although he made a $50
payment - below the minimum due - in August 2008.
The account continued to accrue interest until the Bank
charged it off (i.e., treated it as a bad debt) later in
2008, at which point the unpaid balance was $17, 066.91.
Eventually, Mertola acquired Santos's debt and, on July
18, 2014, sued ...