ANNE M. PRICE, Appellant,
STACY GONZALEZ; JOSE GONZALEZ and SARA GONZALEZ, and the marital community composed thereof, Respondents.
sued the wrong defendant. The trial court dismissed, because
the statute of limitations expired before the proper
defendant received notice. Price argues that this was error,
because her amendment to the complaint relates back to the
original filing of the complaint. We affirm.
Gonzalez rear-ended Anne Price. Price's declaration
describes the exchange of information that occurred
The driver who hit me was an emotional mess - she was crying,
had labored breathing, and was shaking. I was very worried
for her. I asked her if she was okay and she said no. She
said she had just left her doctor's office and her heart was
not good. That made me even more worried for her, so I asked
again if she as okay. She said no, but that she was on her
way to another doctor's appointment. I said that we
should call the police or an ambulance but she insisted that
I suggested we exchange information, so we both went to our
cars to get that. I didn't have any paper handy, so my
mother gave me a receipt that she had, so I could write on
the back of it. I walked back to the other driver and she
handed me her insurance card; her hand was shaking. I gave
her my insurance card and we each wrote down the other's
contact information. The other driver did not write down her
name and information on a piece of paper and give it to me -
she gave me her insurance card and I wrote down her contact
info on my mom's slip of paper....
At no time did the other driver tell me her name, otherwise I
would have written it down. The only ID [(identification)]
she gave me was her insurance card, she did not show me her
driver's license. Based on the information the driver
handed to me, I believed her name was Sara Gonzalez.
fact, Sara Gonzalez was Stacy's mother.
November 13, 2015, the last day before the statute of
limitations expired, Price filed a summons and complaint for
personal injuries against Sara Gonzalez. Sara's
answer stated that Price had sued the wrong defendant.
trial court granted Price leave of court to amend her
complaint. On January 27, 2016, over two months after the
statute of limitations had expired, Price amended her
complaint to name Stacy as a defendant, in addition to Sara
and Jose Gonzalez. On February 4, 2016, within 90 days of the
filing of the original complaint, Sara's attorney
accepted service on behalf of both Sara and Stacy. On
September 2, 2016, the defendants moved to dismiss. They
argued that the amended complaint did not relate back to the
original complaint, because Stacy, the proper defendant, did
not receive notice within the statute of limitations period,
as required by CR 15(c). The trial court granted this motion,
because "defendant Stacy Gonzalez did not receive notice
of the institution of the action mistakenly brought against
her mother within the period of time provided by law for
commencing the action against her which was three years from
the date of the November 13, 2012 accident."
makes two arguments. First, she argues that her amended
complaint relates back to the original complaint under CR
15(c). Second, she alternatively argues that Washington
courts should change their interpretation of CR 15(c) to
conform to the federal rule that allows relation back of
pleadings within 90 days of the expiration of the statute of
trial court granted summary judgment to Gonzalez, because it
found that Stacy did not receive notice of the institution of
the action within the statute of limitations, as required by
CR 15. This court reviews de novo a trial
court's decision to grant summary judgment. Lakey v.
Puget Sound Energy, Inc., 176 Wn.2d 909, 922, 296 P.3d
860 (2013). It performs the same inquiry as the trial court,
and will affirm an order of summary judgment when there is no
genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. It
reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, and draws all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor, Id.
first argues that she satisfied the requirements of CR 15(c).
Our Supreme Court has described the purpose CR 15(c) as
Plaintiffs occasionally sue incorrect defendants by mistake
and do not realize who the correct defendants are until after
the statute of limitations period expires. We have a court
rule that deals with that scenario: CR 15(c). If plaintiffs
amend their complaint and meet the requirements of that rule,
we treat their amended complaint as "relat[ing] back to
the date of the original pleading, " and thus timely.
Martin v. Dematic, 182 Wn.2d 281, 288, 340 P.3d 834
(2014) (alteration in original) (quoting CR15(c)).
15(c) has two textual and one judicially created
requirements. Id. at 288. The first and second
(textual) requirements are:
[W]ithin the period provided by law for commencing the action
against the original party, the party to be brought in by
amendment (1) has received such notice of the institution of
the action that the new party will not be prejudiced in
maintaining her or his defense on the merits, and (2) knew or
should have known that, but for a mistake concerning the
identity of the proper party, the action would have been
brought against the new party.
CR 15. Third, Washington courts have followed federal courts
and added an "inexcusable neglect" prong, which
disallows relation back if the error was due to inexcusable
neglect. Martin, 182 Wn.2d at 289.
party seeking for its amended complaint to relate back has
the burden to prove these three conditions are satisfied.
Id. at 288-89. But, CR 15(c) is to be liberally
construed on the side of allowance of relation back of an
amendment after the statute of limitations has run,
particularly where the opposing party will be put to no
disadvantage. Perrin v. Stensland, 158 Wn.App. 185,
194, 240 P.3d 1189 (2010).
Notice Within the ...