United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jonathan A. Strauss, Sapientia Law Group, PLLC, (for
N. LaCoursiere, Duluth City Attorney's Office, (for
Defendant Rebecca Kopp).
Michael J. Davis United States District Court
above-entitled matter came before the Court upon the Report
and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge Tony
N. Leung dated October 25, 2016. Plaintiff has objected to
the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that Defendant
Rebecca Kopp's motion to dismiss be granted.
to statute, the Court has conducted a de novo review
of the record. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Rule
72.2(b). Based on the Court's de novo review the
Court will adopt the Report and Recommendation.
has cited no controlling authority to support her position
that waiting to name Rebecca Kopp as a defendant due to
inadequate knowledge is a “mistake” as
contemplated in Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(C)(ii) (allowing an
amendment to relate back if the defendant “knew or
should have known that the action would have been brought
against it, but for a mistake concerning the proper
party's identity). The decision of the United States
Supreme Court in Krupski v. Costa Crociere S.P.A.
addresses “mistake” as used in Rule 15 (c) as
“[a]n error, misconception, or misunderstanding; an
erroneous belief.” 560 U.S. 538, 548 (2010). Here,
Plaintiff chose to sue an “unnamed Duluth
officer” not because of an error, misconception or
misunderstanding. She did so because at the time she filed
suit, she did not have confirmation that Rebecca Kopp was the
Duluth officer that accessed her private data.
Eighth Circuit has recognized that an amended complaint
identifying a defendant by name “ordinarily will not be
treated as relating back to the prior pleading, unless
certain conditions set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) are
satisfied.” Foulk v. Charrier, 262 F.3d 687,
696 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing Barrow v. Wethersfield,
66 F.3d 466, 467 (2d Cir. 1995) in which the court found that
John Doe pleadings cannot be used to circumvent statutes of
limitations)). And as the Magistrate Judge noted, many recent
decisions from this District have held that when a plaintiff
substitutes a Doe defendant for a named defendant, the
amendment does not relate back under Rule 15(c)(1)(C)(ii).
(Report and Recommendation at 8-9.)
Court also agrees with the conclusion of the Magistrate Judge
that equitable tolling of the statute of limitations is not
warranted in this case. The doctrine of equitable tolling
“permits a plaintiff to sue after the statutory time
period has expired if [s]he has been prevented from doing so
due to inequitable circumstances.” Firstcom, Inc.
v. Qwest Corp., 555 F.3d 669, 675 (8th Cir. 2009).
“But equitable tolling offers ‘an exceedingly
narrow window of relief' and courts ‘rarely invoke
doctrines such as equitable tolling to alleviate a plaintiff
from a loss of his right to assert a claim.'”
Kost v. Hunt, 983 F.Supp.2d 1121, 1130 (D. Minn.
2013) (citing Firstcom, 555 F.3d at 675).
matter was filed on July 30, 2013, and the statute of
limitations ran on Plaintiff's claims against Rebecca
Kopp on September 19, 21 and 30, 2013 and June 1, 2014 - four
years from the dates she accessed Plaintiff's
driver's license information. Shortly after commencing
this action, numerous motions to dismiss were filed by the
named defendants, including a motion by the City of Duluth,
Rebecca Kopp's employer. By Order dated September 9,
2014, the City of Duluth's motion was granted, yet
Plaintiff did not file a motion for discovery relative to
whether Rebecca Kopp accessed her driver's license data
until November 6, 2015. Once the motion for discovery was
granted, Plaintiff did not file a motion to amend her
complaint until two months later. Under these circumstances,
the Court finds that Plaintiff was not diligent in pursuing
her rights with respect to asserting a claim against Rebecca
Kopp. In addition, Plaintiff points to no evidence by which
to conclude that the City of Duluth or Rebecca Kopp engaged
in inequitable conduct that prevented Plaintiff from filing a
timely claim against Kopp. Accordingly, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's claims against Kopp are time-barred.
HEREBY ORDERED that:
Defendant Rebecca Kopp's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), (ECF No. 156) is GRANTED.
matter is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED