The Statute of Limitations is a shield that respondents, in arbitration, and defendants, in judicial proceedings, use to protect themselves even if they know that through their action or inaction they have harmed the investing public. Luckily, the Second District Court of Appeals, in the State of Florida, has recently issued an opinion, which, for the time being, supports the aggrieved investor.
In the case of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. v. Barbara J. Phillips, as Trustee of the Barbara J. Phillips Trust, et. al., Case No. 2D10-2144, the court has determined that Florida statute 95.011 does not apply to arbitration proceedings unless the parties have expressly included a provision in their arbitration agreement stating that it does apply. However, because of the fact that the court determined that this issue is of great public importance, it has certified the following question to the Florida Supreme Court:
Does Section 95.011, Florida Statutes, apply to arbitration when the parties have not expressly included a provision in their arbitration agreement stating that it is applicable?
While this leaves the issue somewhat up in the air, the holding of the second circuit is currently the only case, in Florida, addressing this issue and should be construed as the controlling law in Florida.
The immediate effect of this ruling is that, on all claims that are currently pending in arbitration and which will be decided before the matter is considered by the Florida Supreme Court, the statute of limitations should no longer be an issue. For new claims that are filed, it should not be an issue until an adverse ruling, if any, is received from the Florida Supreme Court.
Thus, if you had a claim(s) that was turned down because the lawyer that you consulted with determined that it was barred by the statute of limitations, you might still be able to file the same, subject to whatever action the Florida Supreme Court elects to take.
However, with all claims, those investors that act expeditiously usually have the greatest chance in prevailing on their claims.