Plaintiff sues the wrong company and eventually names the correct party. The correct defendant attempts to defend against the suit by saying it was named too late.
Relating back under FRCP 15(c) does not depend on the amending party’s knowledge or timeliness.
Plaintiff Krupski purchased a cruise ticket. On the front Costa Cruise was listed as the carrier, but on the back Costa Crociere was listed. When Plaintiff Krupski was injured on the cruise ship she brought suit against Costa Cruise for negligence on February 1, 2008. The statute of limitations expired three weeks after that. After the statute of limitations had run, Costa Cruise notified Plaintiff Krupski to Costa Crociere’s identity as the proper defendant multiple times. Costa Cruise then moved for summary judgement based on the grounds that it was not the proper defendant. Krupski cross-moved to amend her complaint to add Defendant Costa Crociere. The District Court denied Costa Cruise’s motion for summary judgement and granted Plaintiff Krupski’s motion for leave to amend. Both parties then agreed to remove Costa Cruise from the action and Plaintiff Krupski filed an amended complaint against Costa Crociere on July 11, 2008. Defendant Costa Crociere then filed a motion to dismiss based on the grounds that Plaintiff Krupski’s amended complaint did not relate back to the date of her original complaint and that the suit was moot because the statute of limitations had run, which was granted by the district court and affirmed by the appeals court for the Eleventh Circuit.
Is relation back under FRCP 15(c) dependent on the amendment party’s knowledge or timeliness?
No, FRCP 15(c) allows an amendment to a pleading to relate back to the date of the original pleading if (1) the claim against the new defendant involves the same transaction or occurrence set forth in the original complaint, (2) the new defendant received notice of the lawsuit such that it would not be prejudiced by being named, and (3) the new defendant knew or should have known that it would have been sued but for the plaintiff’s mistake about the defendant’s identity. Decisions of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
1. The appeals court refused to allow the plaintiff to relate back her amended complaint because she knew or should have known that Costa Crociere was the true defendant and thus her decision to sue Costa Cruise was not a mistake.
2. But the inquiry is whether the defendant knew or should have known, it would have been named as a defendant but for a mistake.
3. Defendant Costa Crociere contends that Plaintiff Krupski was aware of Costa Crociere’s existence. However, being aware of both potential defendants does not mean that the plaintiff could not still make a mistake in naming the correct party.
4. Plaintiff may know of both parties but not know the roles each party played.
5. The appeals court also denied Plaintiff Krupski’s amendment because of her delay in amending.
6. However, Rule 15(c) does not list undue delay as a basis for denying relation back. Rule 15(c) actually requires relation back when the requirements are met.
7. It is clear that Plaintiff Krupski was confused as to which company owned and operated the cruise ship.
8. Defendant Costa Crociere had constructive notice of Plaintiff Krupski’s complaint and should have known that it would have been named as a defendant but for Plaintiff Krupski’s mistake.
9. Therefore, relation back is mandated.