Lorenzo v. Kirk, C. A. N21C-08-184 PRW

CourtSuperior Court of Delaware
Writing for the CourtPaul R. Wallace, Judge
PartiesSANTO E. LORENZO, and WILMI LORENZO, Plaintiffs, v. LISA M. KIRK, MARTIN J. KIRK, JR., and RUBELINDA GENAO MADERA, Defendants.
Docket NumberC. A. N21C-08-184 PRW
Decision Date18 November 2022

SANTO E. LORENZO, and WILMI LORENZO, Plaintiffs,
v.

LISA M. KIRK, MARTIN J. KIRK, JR., and RUBELINDA GENAO MADERA, Defendants.

C. A. No. N21C-08-184 PRW

Superior Court of Delaware

November 18, 2022


Submitted: November 15, 2022

Upon Plaintiffs Santo E. Lorenzo and Wilmi Lorenzo's Motion to Amend their Complaint, GRANTED.

ORDER

Paul R. Wallace, Judge

This 18th day of November, 2022, upon consideration of the Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend their Complaint (D.I. 27), the Kirk Defendants' Response (D.I. 31),[1] and the record in this matter, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Plaintiffs Santo E. Lorenzo and Wilmi Lorenzo ("Plaintiffs") bring this Motion to Amend their Complaint for the purpose of adding Brandi Petrucci as a defendant.[2]

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(2) Plaintiffs argue that Counsel for Defendants Lisa M. Kirk and Martin J. Kirk, Jr. (the "Kirk Defendants") provided Plaintiffs with the fact that a non-party, Brandi Petrucci (Defendant Lisa Kirk's daughter), was the actual driver of the allegedly negligent car, instead of Defendant Lisa M. Kirk.[3]

(3) The Kirk Defendants oppose this Motion on timeliness grounds.[4]Specifically, the Kirk Defendants argue that because the Complaint was filed on August 20, 2021, and the Motion to Amend was filed on October 31, 2022, the Motion is barred under Rule 15(c).[5]

(4) Rule 15 governs the procedures for amending a complaint.[6] And Rule 15(c) governs the relation-back doctrine.[7] That section provides that "[a]n amendment of a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:

(1) relation back is permitted by the law that provides the statute of limitations applicable to the action, or

(2) the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading, or

(3) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the party against whom a claim is asserted if the foregoing provision (2) is satisfied and, within the period provided by statute or these Rules for service

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of the summons and complaint, the party to be brought in by amendment (A) has received such notice of the institution of the action that the party will not be prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits, and (B) 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 party."[8]

(5) As the Delaware Supreme Court has observed, satisfying Rule 15(c) requires:

(i) the claim or defense asserted in the amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleading
(ii) the party to be brought in by amendment has received such notice of the pending action that the party will not be prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits; and
(iii) the party to be brought in by amendment 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 party.[9]

(6) Moreover, the Delaware Supreme Court has "held that Superior Court Civil Rule 15 directs the liberal granting of amendments when justice so requires and that in the absence of prejudice to another party, the trial court is required to exercise its discretion in favor of granting leave to amend."[10]

(7) The Kirk Defendants rely solely on the plain language of Rule 15(c)

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and cite to no case law. Their argument is that the phrase "within the period provided by statute or these Rules...

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