Bedford Health Props., LLC v. Estate of Williams, 946 So. 2d 335 (Miss. 2006)

Plaintiff filed suit alleging various claims: negligence; medical malpractice; malice and/or gross negligence; fraud; breach of fiduciary duty; statutory survival claim; and statutory wrongful death. After Defendants answered, Plaintiffs, moved to substitute parties and for leave to amend the complaint. Several incorrect defendants were dismissed. More than a year after the Plaintiffs’ motion was filed, the court granted leave to amend the complaint and substitute defendants. The estate then filed an amended complaint naming additional defendants. Defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment, contending the amended complaint did not relate back to the original complaint pursuant to M.R.C.P. 15(c). The trial court denied the motion but granted a certificate for interlocutory appeal, and the appeal was granted. On appeal, the issues were (1) whether the Estate properly substituted a defendant for a fictitious party; (2) whether the Estate’s amended complaint relates back pursuant to M.R.C.P. 15; and (3) whether the Estate’s claim was time-barred by Miss. Code Ann. ยง 15-1-36. The court found that Plaintiff did not properly substitute a fictitious party under Rule 9(h); instead, Plaintiff substituted incorrect parties for the correct ones. The court also found that the correct nursing facility and therefore the correct employee defendants were known. The court found that the amended complaint, which corrected the “place” where the injury occurred, related back to defendants of the original suit who remained in the case. The court found that Rule 15 was satisfied as to defendants that had notice of the original suit (the new corporate defendants were related corporations), but was not satisfied as to defendants where there was no proof of notice (individuals). As to those defendants with notice, the complaint was not barred by the statute of limitations.

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