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Court Allows Amendment, Adding New Defendants to Brutality Suit

The plaintiff sued over excessive force and now seeks to amend to add new
defendants after the statute of limitations had run.

Claims against new defendants relate back for limitations purposes only if
they were not named because of a mistake (i.e., not because their
identities weren't known). There is no mistake of fact here, since the
plaintiff clearly knew their identities.

At 51-52: "Rule 15(c) has been interpreted to allow for mistakes of law as
well as fact, however, including a legal mistake concerning the
requirements of the cause of action." Here the plaintiff was apparently
not aware that he needed to list individuals in the caption of his
complaint to make them parties, or that he needed to make allegations about
municipal defendants in order to assert a Monell claim. It appears that
the plaintiff is ignorant of both substantive and procedural law and would
have drafted a better complaint if he had known what he was doing.

Rule 15(c) also requires that the defendants have notice of the action and
that but for an error they would have been sued. Defendants don't deny
this, and as a practical matter it seems impossible that they would not
know, since the defense of the named defendants would have to be predicated
on the new defendants' version of events and they would have been involved
either through discovery or as an information source. Knowledge of the
pendency of an action can be imputed to a new defendant where the
defendant's attorney knew that the additional defendant would be added.
The Nassau County Attorney's Office "should have known that, given the
deficiencies of the original complaint," the new defendants would be named,
and would be added when the mispleading became evident. The court finds
that they were on notice of the complaint within 120 days of its service,
except for one of them who was not alleged actually to have taken part in
the beating of the plaintiff. He had no reason to think he might be joined.

The new defendants will not be prejudiced by being added, despite the
seven-year delay, since the allegations about their conduct were in the
complaint from the beginning, and they will be represented by the County
Attorney, who has conducted discovery from the beginning. See: Mosley v.
Jablonsky, 209 F.R.D. 48 (E.D.N.Y. 2002) (Wall, M.J.).

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Related legal case

Mosley v. Jablonsky