In Adams & Freese Co. v. Kenoyer, 17 N.D. 302, 306, 116 N.W. 98, 99 (1908), an amendment to a statute, which suspended the running of the statute of limitations during a defendant's absence from the state, exempted real estate mortgage foreclosures beginning July 1, 1905.
Recognizing the Legislature must fix a reasonable time before existing causes of action could be barred by retroactive legislation, the Court said:
"But conceding that the Legislature in enacting the statute intended to make it retroactive as well as prospective in its operation, and also intended to and did fix the time between its enactment and the date of its taking effect, July 1st, for the institution of proceedings on existing mortgages, still the time thus fixed was, as a matter of law, unreasonable, and hence the statute cannot be held to apply to foreclosure proceedings under mortgages which had matured prior to the enactment thereof. The time between these dates was but 3 months and 21 days. In that short space of time it would be almost an utter impossibility, even if they, in fact, acquired knowledge of such law on the day it was enacted, for all persons, including residents and nonresidents, owning real estate mortgages on property in this state under which causes of action had accrued, to cause foreclosure proceedings to be instituted on all such mortgages. In considering the validity of such statute when applied to existing causes of action, it is both just and reasonable to assume, what we all know to be true as a matter of common knowledge, that a large per cent of such persons, especially nonresidents of the state, would not, in that short period of time, acquire knowledge that such a vitally important statute to them had been enacted." Kenoyer, 17 N.D. at 309, 116 N.W. at 100-01.