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Amendments involving new plaintiffs relate back in the following limited circumstances: (1) where there is a close identity of interest between the original plaintiff and the present plaintiff; and (2) where the new claim is based on the same allegations as the original claim.
Mont. Code Ann. § 27-1-317 provides that damages shall compensate for all the detriment proximately caused, whether or not it could have been anticipated. In addition, Mont. Code Ann. § 27-1-302 requires that damages be reasonable. Compensatory damages to property are designed to return the damaged party to the same, or nearly the same, position enjoyed before the property is damaged.
Plaintiffs Larry Semenza and Faye Fitzgerald commenced this action to recover compensation for crop damage which they allege was caused when their crops were sprayed by defendants Ronald Bowman and Eric Johnson or L & R Spraying Service. The complaint first was filed by Semenza, but it included a claim for crops damaged on the land he farmed on behalf of the Fitzgerald. The complaint was amended to add the Fitzgerald as a party. The court found that L & R's spraying caused the crop damage, and that Fitzgerald was damaged in the amount of $ 47,737.28, based on calculations done by her expert, Neal Fehringer. The basis for that amount was the court's finding that she should have been able to sell all of her barley as malt barley at $ 3.69/bushel and would have harvested at least 13,194 more bushels. In addition, the court found that Semenza had to rent equipment for $ 3,000 to screen out "thins" to ensure the maximum amount of Fitzgerald's barley was suited for malt and added that amount to her damage award. Fehringer also testified, and the District Court found, that based on crop reduction at both of his locations, Semenza sustained damages in the total amount of $ 55,073.02. The District Court also found that L & R knew that Semenza's damages were at least the amount set forth above and awarded Semenza and Fitzgerald prejudgment interest to accrue from September 15, 1989. L & R claimed that the District Court erred when it concluded that Fitzgerald's claim was not barred by § 27-2-207(1), MCA, which provides a two-year statute of limitations for injury to property since she was not added as a party until more than two years after her crops were damaged. L & R contends that Rule 15(c), M.R.Civ.P., does not contain specific language allowing a new plaintiff to be added after the statute of limitations has expired. L & R contended that the District Court erred as a matter of law by accepting plaintiffs' expert's damage calculations and that based on decisions from other jurisdictions, we should hold that the $ 2.40 value at the time of harvest must be used to calculate damages.