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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Watching cases no one else cares about

While everyone (including me) is talking about yesterday's decision in the dog-fighting case or Monday's oral argument in Christian Legal Society, I am all about this morning's argument in Krupski v. Costa Crociere, a case from the Eleventh Circuit that deals with relation back of amended pleadings under Rule 15(c) and what constitutes a "mistake concerning the proper party's identity." In part this is because I helped moot the respondent's attorney here in Miami.

A plaintiff who was injured while on a cruise ship initially sued the cruise line rather than the owner/operator of the ship, then sought to amend her pleading after the limitations period has expired (and apparently after a lengthy delay in which she (or her attorney) new the cruise line was the appropriate defendant). The Court granted cert, I assume, to help define with some precision what constitutes a "mistake concerning the proper party's identity." This continues to flummox courts; some courts read it so narrowly as to make amendment impossible, while some basically read the mistake requirement completely out of the rule. I have had a long-standing interest in this tied to the issue of pleading against John Doe police officers in § 1983 actions.

Anyway, I may be one of the few people anxiously downloading the transcript when this one is over.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 21, 2010 at 08:30 AM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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You're not alone, plaintiff's lawyers like me want to know the answer there. We often file suits blind to the internal workings of defendants, so relation-back is a critical issue.

It's also interesting to see another SCOTUS ruling on the meaning of the Rules, like the recent 'Shady Grove' opinion. For decades SCOTUS has tried to avoid robust interpretations of the Rules, but that seems to be changing lately.

Posted by: Max Kennerly | Apr 21, 2010 9:13:35 AM

Oh cool, I didn't even know this case was on the docket.

Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Apr 21, 2010 4:06:35 PM


C'mon! You know that you aren't the only civ pro geek out there, don't you?

Posted by: Hillel Y. Levin | Apr 21, 2010 9:50:28 PM

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