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McDonough v. Al's Auto Sales

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 27, 2017

Johanna Beth McDonough, Plaintiff,
v.
Al's Auto Sales, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          David S. Doty, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the court upon the appeal by plaintiff Johanna Beth McDonough of Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel's January 27, 2017, order granting in part and denying in part the motion for leave to amend the complaint (Order).[1] After a thorough review of the Order, and based on the file, record, and proceedings herein, the court denies the appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         This privacy dispute arises out of defendants' access of the motor vehicle record of plaintiff Johanna Beth McDonough. Neither party objects to the magistrate judge's recitation of the facts or procedural posture of the case. The court will therefore proceed directly to the issues presented.

         The Order denied as futile McDonough's motion to amend the complaint to name individual defendants previously referred to as John or Jane Does, concluding that (1) any claims against such individuals are time-barred, (2) the proposed amended complaint does not relate back to the original complaint, (3) equitable tolling does not apply, and (4) the appeal in this matter did not toll the limitations period. McDonough objects only to the Order's determinations regarding the doctrines of relation back and equitable tolling.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         The standard of review applicable to an appeal of a magistrate judge's order on nondispositive matters is “extremely deferential.” Reko v. Creative Promotions, Inc., 70 F.Supp.2d 1005, 1007 (D. Minn. 1999). The court will reverse such an order only if it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); D. Minn. LR 72.2(a)(3).

         II. Motion to Amend

         The “court should freely give leave to a party to amend its pleadings when justice so requires; however, it may properly deny a party's motion to amend its complaint when such amendment ... would be futile.” Popoalii v. Corr. Med. Servs., 512 F.3d 488, 497 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal citation omitted). An amendment is futile when it would not survive a motion to dismiss. In re Senior Cottages of Am., LLC, 482 F.3d 997, 1001 (8th Cir. 2007).

         McDonough acknowledges that the proposed amendments to the complaint relate to conduct that occurred more than four years before the date of the proposed amended complaint. In other words, absent application of the doctrines of relation back or equitable tolling, the claims are untimely and amendment would be futile.

         A. Relation Back

         Relevant here, an amended pleading will relate back to the date of an original pleading when:

[T]he amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted ... if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m) for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment: (i) received such notice of the action that it will not be prejudiced in defending on the merits; and (ii) knew or should have known that the action ...

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