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Nevertheless, it is not necessary that the moving party demonstrate that the party to be added had actual notice of the original pleading -- constructive notice can suffice under the proper circumstances." Where a plaintiff chooses to rely on constructive notice to satisfy the requirements of Rule 15(c)(1)(C)(i), she can demonstrate such notice by showing the two parties -- the original defendant and the defendant to be added -- share some "identity of interest." Identity of interest generally means that the parties are so closely related in their business operations or other activities that the institution of an action against one serves to provide notice of the litigation to the other. Furthermore, when the original and the added defendants are represented by the same counsel, the institution of an action against one serves to provide notice of the litigation to the other.
This maritime personal injury action arose from an injury sustained by Plaintiff, Wanda Krupski ("Krupski"), a passenger aboard the vessel Costa Magica, on February 21, 2007. On July 2, 2007, Krupski's counsel notified Costa Cruise Lines N.V., L.L.C. ("CCL N.V.") of Krupski's claims, and Krupski received a response from CCL N.V.'s Claims Administrator on July 9, 2007. In that letter, the Claims Administrator requested additional information from Krupski and advised her that a pre-litigation settlement might be possible. The parties, however, were unable to reach a settlement. Krupski filed this action on February 1, 2008 and served CCL N.V. on February 4, 2008. CCL N.V. served its Answer to Krupski's original Complaint on February 25, 2008 [D.E. 6], asserting that CCL N.V. does not occupy the requisite status of "carrier," and thus is not a proper defendant. CCL N.V. reasserted this argument in a Motion for Summary Judgment. Before the Court could rule on the Motion, the action was dismissed without prejudice. The Court re-opened the case on June 5, 2008. Krupski added Costa Crociere S.p.A. as a Defendant on July 11, 2008 in her First Amended Complaint, and the Court dismissed CCL N.V. as a party on August 20, 2008. Subsequently, Costa Crociere S.p.A. (“Costa Crociere”). filed the present Motion to dismiss. Costa Crociere explained that a Passage Contract between Krupski and the carrier, Costa Crociere S.p.A., contains a one-year statute of limitations pursuant to 46 U.S.C. App. § 183-b. Utilizing February 21, 2007 as the date of injury, Costa Crociere S.p.A. conceded Krupski's original action against CCL N.V., filed on February 1, 2008, was within the one-year period. Costa Crociere S.p.A. maintained, however, that Krupski's First Amended Complaint, filed July 11, 2007, did not "relate back" to the original filing date through application of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) and thus should be dismissed with prejudice because it was barred by the statute of limitations. Krupski objected, arguing that her First Amended Complaint did relate back to the original Complaint.
Did Costa Crociere receive sufficient notice of the action, thereby allowing the amended complaint to relate back to the original complaint?
It was undisputed that Costa Crociere S.p.A. did not receive actual notice of this suit within 120 days of the suit being filed. Indeed, Costa Crociere S.p.A. did not receive actual notice until July 11, 2008. Nevertheless, there was constructive notice in the instant case/ There was sufficient identity of interests between CCL N.V. and Costa Crociere S.p.A. that the institution of an action against one served to provide notice of the litigation to the other. Both CCL N.V. and Costa Crociere S.p.A. were represented by the same counsel. On its website, Costa Crociere S.p.A. listed CCL N.V. as its United States office. Moreover, several managers of CCL N.V. maintained their offices at the same address listed as Costa Crociere S.p.A.'s offices in Italy. Thus, because Costa Crociere S.p.A. and CCL N.V. share an identity of interest, notice to CCL N.V. can be imputed onto Costa Crociere S.p.A.