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Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c) provides: Relation Back of Amendments. An amendment of a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when (1) relation back is permitted by the law that provides the statute of limitations applicable to the action, or (2) the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading, or (3) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted if the foregoing provision (2) is satisfied and, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for service of the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment (A) has received such notice of the institution of the action that the party will not be prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits, and (B) knew or should have known that, but for a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party, the action would have been brought against the party
Conrad Chalick initiated this medical malpractice action by filing a complaint in this court on or about March 9, 1999, claiming diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff named Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center and University Radiology Services, P.A., as defendants, along with four individual physicians: Raja Salem, M.D., Chin-Wei Huang, M.D., Edward G. Moss, M.D., and Robert M. White, M.D. Chalick also named as defendants John Does 1-50 and Jane Does 1-50.
Chalick sought to replace a fictitiously-named John Doe defendant with Richard Burns, M.D., pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c). It is uncontested that the original complaint was filed within the limitations period, but the request to add Dr. Burns as a defendant was made after the limitations period expired.
Did the addition of Dr. Burns relate back to the filing of the original complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)?
The court found that as a result of defendants' failure to comply with their obligations under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a), the interests of justice permitted relation back under federal law. Defendants' failure to explain the role of the individual defendant resulted in prejudice to Chalick and defendants' compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a) would have prevented defendants from arguing that individual defendant did not receive notice within the Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c) period.