Franconia Associates v. United States, 536 U.S. 129, 5 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 129 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

properties to low- and middle-income housing and to abide by related restrictions during the life of the loans.

Petitioners allege that the promissory notes governing their loans guaranteed the borrower the right to prepay at any time and thereby gain release from the federal program and the restrictions it places on the use of a participating owner's property. In the suits that yielded the judgments before us, petitioners charged that Congress abridged that release right in the Emergency Low Income Housing Preservation Act of 1987 (ELIHPA or Act), 101 Stat. 1877, as amended, 42 U. S. C. 1472(c) (1994 ed. and Supp. V). That Act placed permanent restraints upon prepayment of FmHA loans. Petitioners asserted in their complaints that ELIHPA effected both a repudiation of their contracts and a taking of their property in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The Federal Circuit held petitioners' claims time barred under 28 U. S. C. 2501, which prescribes that all Tucker Act claims must be filed within six years of the date they "first accrue[d]." In the Federal Circuit's view, passage of ELIHPA constituted an immediate breach of the FmHA loan agreements and therefore triggered the running of the limitations period. Petitioners filed suit not "within six years of," but over nine years after, ELIHPA's enactment. On that account, the Federal Circuit held their claims untimely, and their suits properly dismissed.

Accepting for purposes of this decision that the loan contracts guaranteed the absolute prepayment right petitioners allege, we reverse the Federal Circuit's judgment. ELIHPA's enactment, we conclude, qualified as a repudiation of the parties' bargain, not a present breach of the loan agreements. Accordingly, breach would occur, and the six-year limitations period would commence to run, when a borrower tenders prepayment and the Government then dishonors its obligation to accept the tender and release its control over use of the property that secured the loan.


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