Michigan Supreme Court Discusses Amending Complaints to Add Nonparty at Fault


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In a recent Michigan slip-and-fall case, a state appellate court considered whether a plaintiff’s amended complaint adding a nonparty at fault relates back to the original filing. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s amended complaint did relate back to the original filing date of the complaint. Thus, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the plaintiff’s case was time-barred.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff purchased a new refrigerator at Best Buy. Evidently, the plaintiff’s new refrigerator unexpectedly sprayed water out of its dispenser onto the floor, causing the plaintiff to slip and fall. The plaintiff filed a claim against Best Buy, which sold and installed the plaintiff’s fridge, alleging negligence, breach of warranty, and breach of contract. Best Buy filed a notice identifying Samsung as a nonparty at fault, as the fridge’s manufacturer. Essentially, Best Buy was claiming that Samsung should be a party to the lawsuit because Samsung was likely at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff then amended her complaint, adding a claim against Samsung.

After Samsung received notice that it was named in the lawsuit, the company argued that the claim against it was not timely filed, because the plaintiff had not filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint. Michigan’s Supreme Court held that the plaintiff could amend the pleading if a notice of nonparty fault was filed under Michigan Court Rule 2.112(K). Under that rule, a plaintiff could amend a complaint without filing a motion for leave to amend, as long as the amended pleading relates back to the original claim, under Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated (MCL) 600.2957(2).

Under MCL 600.2957(2), if an unnamed party is identified as being at fault within 91 days of the filing of the complaint, the court will allow a party to file and serve an amended pleading with an additional claim against the unnamed party. The statute specifies that when a complaint is amended to add a claim against an unnamed party, it relates back to the date that the original complaint was filed for purposes of the statute of limitations. In addition, Michigan Court Rule 2.112(K) states that a party that has been served with a notice of nonparty at fault can file an amended pleading stating a claim against the identified nonparty within 91 days of the service of the notice.

Generally, a complaint must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations to be considered timely. If a plaintiff amends a complaint, and the statute of limitations has already passed, then the amended complaint may be untimely unless it “relates back” to the original filing.

The court explained that the rule does not require that a motion for leave to amend a pleading be filed in order to add a claim against the identified nonparty at fault, as long as it is done within the 91-day period. The court noted that the rule did not specify whether the amended complaint would “relate back” to the original complaint. The court held that under MCL 600.2957(2) and MCR 2.112(K), a plaintiff can amend a complaint without filing a motion for leave to amend, and that the amendment relates back to the original complaint. Therefore, the plaintiff’s claim against Samsung was also timely filed and would be permitted to proceed to trial along with the plaintiff’s claim against Best Buy.

Call a Michigan Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured, call an experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. However, it is essential to act fast because the statute of limitations could pass before you have even filed your claim. The dedicated Michigan product liability attorneys at the Neumann Law Group are experienced in handling all types of personal injury claims and have settled millions of dollars in personal injury cases. The Neumann Law Group has over 200 years of combined experience and provides all prospective clients with a free consultation to discuss their case. We represent injured individuals and their families in Detroit and throughout Michigan. Call 1-800-525-NEUMANN or contact us online today.

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