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Erwin v. McDermott

Citation. 284 F.R.D. 40 (D. Mass. 2012)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A year into a suit for excessive force outside a nightclub, Defendant claimed it was not the owner of the nightclub. Under Rule 15, Plaintiff moved amend the pleading to name the correct owner. The actual owner of the club argued against the amendment because the court’s deadline for amendments and after the statute of limitations had passed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Though a court has discretion “when justice so requires” to allow a party to amend a pleading, an amendment to correct the identity of a defendant is mandatory when it properly relates back to the original pleading, under Rule 15(c).


Dustin Erwin (Plaintiff) brought suit for excessive force against a cop, a security guard, and the owners of the nightclub, The Foxy Lady Corporation (Defendant), after being beaten and arrested outside of the club. A year later Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment claiming for the first time that Frank’s of Brockton, Inc. (Defendant) was the real owner of the nightclub. Plaintiff filed a motion for leave under Rule 15 to amend his complaint to substitute in Frank’s as a defendant. Defendant Frank’s, through the same attorney that represented Defendant The Foxy Lady Corporation, argued that the motion could not be granted because it was filed after the court’s deadline for amendments and after the statute of limitations had passed.


Does the Plaintiff’s amended complaint relate back to the date of the original complaint?


Yes. The Court granted the Plaintiff’s motion for leave to correct the name of the defendant.


The Court determined that the Plaintiff’s amendment met the requirements of Rule 15(c). The amended complaint arises out of the same conduct as the original complaint, changing only the name of the nightclub owner. Additionally, circumstances indicated that Defendant Frank’s knew it had not been named by mistake.

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