Does Civil Rule Allow Time Extension to Amend Complaint to Substitute Actual Defendant for 'John Doe?'
Cora Erwin, Administratrix of the Estate of Russel Erwin v. Joseph E. Bryan, M.D., et al., Case no. 2009-0580
5th District Court of Appeals (Tuscarawas County)
ISSUE: When the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit has filed a timely complaint that includes claims against one or more "John Doe" defendants whose identities are unknown to the plaintiff at the time of filing, Ohio Civil Rule 15(D) allows the plaintiff to amend the complaint within one year after filing to substitute the name of an actual defendant for a "John Doe" named in the initial complaint. In this case, the Court is asked to decide whether the one-year "relate-back" provision in Civ.R. 15(D) applies to amendment of a complaint in which the plaintiff knew the name of a potential defendant before the initial filing deadline expired, but lacked sufficient information at that time to determine whether the acts or omissions of that person materially contributed to the plaintiff's injuries.