Brief Fact Summary.
Nelson appealed a circuit court decision that subjected him to liability after he was added to a patent infringement suit that was amended by the Ohio Cellular Products Corporation.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A party who is added to an amended pleading must have the opportunity to respond to the pleading prior to being subject to liability.
In particular, the Supreme Court in Nelson noted that Nelson sought only the right to contest on the merits his personal liability for fees originally sought and awarded solely against his corporation.View Full Point of Law
Ohio Cellular Products Corporation (OCP) filed suit against Adams USA, Inc. (Adams) and the district court dismissed the claim. OCP then sought to amend the pleading and added the president of OCP, Nelson, to the suit. The district court granted the motion and subjected Nelson to judgment. The court of appeals affirmed and Nelson appealed.
Whether a party who is added to an amended pleading must have the opportunity to respond prior to being subject to liability?
Yes. Nelson’s due process rights were violated because he was immediately subject to judgment when he was added as a party to the amended complaint. The judgment of the court of appeals is reversed and remanded because Nelson must be given the opportunity to contest his liability.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure gives a party added to an amended pleadings 10 days within which to file a response.