Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Coleman v. Apple Eight Hospitality Management, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 8, 2017

ANN COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
APPLE EIGHT HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT, INC.,, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. THOMAS MARTEN, JUDGE.

         On March 6, 2017, Magistrate Judge Teresa James granted plaintiff's motion to file a first amended complaint. The amended complaint sought to substitute True North Hotel Group, Inc., as a defendant in place of two Marriott entities initially named by plaintiff. Dkt. 59. Judge James allowed the amendment and ruled that it related back to the date of the original complaint for statute of limitation purposes pursuant to Rule 15(c)(1)(C). The matter is now before the court on a Motion for Review of the order by defendant Apple Eight Hospitality Management, Inc. (hereinafter “Apple Eight”). Dkt. 71.

         Plaintiff filed the amended complaint naming True North as a defendant on March 9, 2017, Dkt. 58, and, according to a notice filed by plaintiff, a summons was served on True North on March 24, 2017. Dkt. 73. Although more than 21 days have passed, True North has not filed an answer or otherwise appeared in the action.

         For reasons indicated below, the court concludes that the Magistrate Judge's ruling authorizing the filing of the amended complaint was a proper exercise of discretion and was not contrary to law. The court further concludes that Apple Eight has no standing to challenge whether the amendment asserting a claim against True North relates back to the date of the original complaint.

         I. Background.

         Plaintiff filed a petition on July 27, 2016, in the District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas, alleging that she was injured in a slip and fall in a bathtub at a particular Fairfield Inn and Suites in Overland Park, Kansas. The accident occurred on August 19, 2014. The complaint named as defendants two Marriott entities[1] and four Apple Eight entities.[2] Dkt. 1-1. Plaintiff alleged that the defendants were the owners, occupiers, operators and entities that controlled the premises, and that various acts of negligence by defendants, including failures to ensure that the premises were reasonably safe, to warn plaintiff, and to maintain and clean the premises, caused plaintiff to suffer damages. Defendants removed the action to this court on September 6, 2016. Dkt. 1.

         In their answer, the defendants admitted that Apple Eight Hospitality Midwest, LLC, was the owner of the property; admitted that Apple Eight Hospitality Management, Inc. was the lessee of the property; denied that Apple Eight Overland Park, LLC, or Apple Eight Services Overland Park, Inc. owned, occupied, operated or controlled the premises; and denied that Marriott International, Inc. or Marriott Hotel Services, Inc., owned, occupied or controlled the building. Dkt. 1-1.

         On December 23, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint or, in the alternative, to substitute a party. Dkt. 27. The motion asserted that defendants' Rule 26 disclosures had identified True North Hotel Group, Inc., as a party whose fault could be compared for the accident, and plaintiff sought to amend the complaint to include True North as a defendant or to substitute True North for the two named Marriott entities. Plaintiff argued the amendment would “relate back” under Rule 15(c)(1), asserting: “Given the myriad of entities who owned, leased, licensed and apparently managed the premises where plaintiff fell, plaintiff in good faith believed that she had the proper defendants when she filed suit and the inadvertence to name an entity she did not know about until after this matter was removed and only after being able to conduct additional investigation is a mistake.” Dkt. 27 at 3. The Apple Eight entities opposed the motion, arguing in part that the proposed claims against True North “are time-barred under Kansas' statute of limitations and do not relate back under Rule 15(c)(1)(C), ” such that any amendment would be futile. Dkt. 31 at 2.

         Judge James orally granted plaintiff's motion at the conclusion of a hearing on March 6, 2017, and issued a written ruling shortly thereafter. Judge James first found the proposed amendment asserted a claim that arose out of the same transaction set out in the original complaint. Dkt. 59 at 2. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(1)(B). Next, she concluded that True North received actual notice of the action within the 90-day period for service contemplated by Rule 4(m). Additionally, the judge found True North would not be prejudiced in defending the claim, as the case was still in the early stages of discovery and True North's officers had known about the suit since shortly after it was removed. Dkt. 59 at 4. Finally, Judge James concluded that True North knew or should have known that the action would have been brought against it but for plaintiff's mistake. Relying on Krupski v. Costa Crociere S.p.A., 130 S.Ct. 2485 (2010), Judge James found plaintiff's error amounted to a “mistake concerning the proper party's identity” under Rule 15(c)(1)(C)(ii), because plaintiff had misunderstood or had a mistaken belief as to the entity or entities that managed and maintained the hotel. The judge granted plaintiff's alternative request to substitute True North for the two Marriott entities named in the original complaint, and determined that the substitution would relate back to the date of the initial petition. Dkt. 59 at 7.

         II. Motion for Review.

         Apple Eight contends the failure to name True North in the initial complaint was not a mistake covered by Rule 15 because “a plaintiff's lack of knowledge of the intended defendant's identity is not a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party” within the meaning of Rule 15(c)(1)(C). Dkt. 71 at 1-2 (citing Bell v. City of Topeka, 279 F.App'x 689, 692 (10th Cir. 2008) and Garrett v. Fleming, 362 F.3d 692, 696 (10th Cir. 2004)). It argues there was no evidence that plaintiff's counsel even knew of True North's existence when the original petition was filed, so counsel could not have “misunderstood” True North's role in the accident.

         Apple Eight also contends that allowing substitution was clearly erroneous because evidence showed the request for substitution “was made merely to create the illusion of correcting a genuine mistake in the event the Court interpreted Rule 15(c)(1)(C) as allowing only substitutions of defendants.” Dkt. 71 at 2.

         Apple Eight also challenges the finding that True North knew or should have known it would have been sued originally but for a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party. It says that finding is clearly erroneous because it is based on an inference that True North management discussed the allegations in plaintiff's complaint, but “there is no evidence that any such discussions actually occurred, ” and the emails cited by the judge “make no mention of any of the allegations in Plaintiff's original petition.” Id. at 3. It also complains that the judge overlooked evidence showing that True North had no reason to believe that it would have been timely sued but for a mistake concerning its identity.

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.