Professor Joseph Glannon Civil Procedure: Relation Back Against New Parties Under Rule 15c1c)–After The Statute of Limitations Period
Here is a case from my Civil Procedure Class which explains how to change parties and relate them back to an original suit. In this case the plaintiff was allowed to switch cruise lines names in their tort injury lawsuit, even though the Statute of Limitations or the deadline to switch parties has passed.
Case Name, Citation Number, Author
Krupski v. Costa Crocerie S.p.A, 130 S.Ct. 2485 (2010), United States Supreme Court
Plaintiff filed a personal injury action against “Costa Cruise Lines N.V. LLC.” It was properly served. Costa Cruise answered, asserting that it did not have the requisite status of “carrier”–they were not the proper Defendant. Costa Cruise filed a motion for summary judgment, based on this defense. Before the court ruled, Plaintiff dismissed the claim against Costa Cruise without prejudice and moved for leave to add “Costa Crocerie S.p.A” (Defendant). Court granted it. Defendant then moved to dismiss, asserting that Passage Contract between Plaintiff and Defendant had a 1 year Statute of Limitations (time allotted to sue) and that the Plaintiff’s complaint did not satisfy the Relation Back requirements (Rule 15c1c). The District Court found the first condition satisfied except for the 3rd time delay to amend the constructive notice. Eleventh Circuit affirmed with District Court decision that relation back was inappropriate.
–Plaintiff suffered serious personal injury while sailing aboard “Costa Magica.”
–Plaintiff filed suit against Costa Cruise on time and it was proper.
–Costa Cruise answered timely that it wasn’t the proper defendant; it was Costa Crocerie.
–Plaintiff moved to dismiss claim against Costa Cruise with no prejudice and moved for leave to add Costa Crociere as its defendant.
–Court granted it, then Defendant moved to dismiss asserting that they and Krupski had a Passage Contract which contained a 1 year statute of limitations and Krupski’s amendment did not satisfy relation back requirements (Rule 15c1c)
–District court found that the 1st requirements were met because the claims against Crociere are the same as the original claim. However, Plaintiff delayed to amend Crociere in the 2nd complaint.
1) Should the Defendant (Crociere) have known that a suit would be filed against it–during the limitations period and under Rule 15c1c?
2) Is four months too long to amend a complaint?
1) Yes because the District court held that the Defendant had CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE of the Plaintiff’s complaint. It was due to a mistake concerning the proper party’s identity
2) No because there was a mistake in party identification and Crociere had constructive notice.
Rule 15c1c: The proper defendant in a mistaken identity claim should have known that a suit would be filed against him. Despite if it was not timely.
–Costa Crociere should have known, with Rule 4(m) period (Go to Notes), that it would be named as a defendant in the first complaint only because of Krupski’s misunderstanding of which “Costa” ships to sue.
–Despite the fact that Costa Crocerie was listed in her ticket it does not foreclose the possibility that she nonetheless misunderstood crucial facts regarding the two companies identities.
–Krupski’s failure to add Costa Crociere during the Rule 4m period is not sufficient to make any reasonable belief that she had made a deliberate and misinformed decision to not sue Costa Crocerie in the first instance.
–“Crociere” means “Cruise” in Italian therefore the Defendant should have expected a mistake
–The Defendant contributed towards the confusion
Reverse Court of Appeals judgment and Remanded
–Rule 15c1c: The amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted, if Rule 15(c)(1)(B) is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment: (i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending on the merits; and (ii) knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning the proper party’s identity.
–Rule 4(m) TIME LIMIT FOR SERVICE. If a defendant is not served within 120 days after the complaint is filed, the court–on motion or on its own after notice to the plaintiff–must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service be made within a specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for service for an appropriate period. This subdivision (m) does not apply to service in a foreign country under Rule(f) or 4(j)(1).
–Bonerb v. Richard J. Caron Foundation, 159 F.R.D. 16, 1994 U.S. Dist. 18407, (adding malpractice claim after negligence much later)
Prince’s Takeaway: Rule 15(c) You can amend a claim if it arises from the original complaint, but the court must give you leave.
“same parties asserting claims or defenses relate back as long as the claims or defenses arose out the same transaction as the original pleading.
You can change the parties as long—(1) the claim or defense relates back to original suit in original pleading (2) give notice in reasonable time frame for persona to argue the merits without prejudice and its foreseeable. Statute of limitations does not always preclude a lawsuit from commencing.
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