Whether a plaintiff, who has imputed knowledge of the identity of a defendant, files an amended complaint to add the known defendant after a one-year statute of limitations, can “relate back” to the filing date of the original complaint through the application of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)?
Wanda Krupski (“Krupski”) suffered an injury as a passenger on a cruise ship owned and operated by Costa Crociere S.p.A. (“Costa Crociere”). In the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida, her lawyer filed suit against Costa Cruise, N.V., LLC, Costa Crociere’s booking agent. The parties dismissed that suit by stipulation, because the owner and operator of a cruise ship is subject to liability, not the booking agent. Krupski filed an amended complaint against Costa Crociere—the correct party. Costa Crociere filed a motion to dismiss. The district court granted the motion, finding that Krupski had not made a “mistake” within the meaning of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) (“Rule 15(c)”) that would allow the amendment to relate back to the original filing of the complaint. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court’s decision will clarify what constitutes a “mistake” within the meaning of Rule 15(c).
Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties
Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(l)(C) Permits An Amended Complaint To "Relate Back", For Limitation Purposes, When The Amendment Corrects A, "Mistake Concerning The Proper Party's Identity". Other Circuit Courts of Appeal Construe The Rule As Applying To Substitution Of The Correct Defendant For A Related Corporation With A Similar Name. The Eleventh Circuit Has Concluded That There Can Be No Such "Mistake" Where The Plaintiff Had Imputed Knowledge Of The Identity Of The Added Defendant Prior To Filing Suit. Does The Eleventh Circuit Construction Of Rule 15(c)(l)(C) Undermine The Purpose Of The Rule And Is It Inconsistent With The Decisions In Other Circuits?
Wanda Krupski used a South Carolina-based travel agent to purchase a cruise from Costa Cruise Lines, N.V., LLC (“Costa Cruise”) in Hollywood, Florida. Krupski v. Costa Crociere, 330 Fed.Appx. 892, 893 (11th Cir.