Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., No. 1214

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtJAMES R. EYLER.
Citation139 Md. App. 339,776 A.2d 4
PartiesJohn E. WILLIAMS, Jr. v. HOFMANN BALANCING TECHNIQUES, LTD. et al.
Decision Date05 July 2001
Docket NumberNo. 1214

776 A.2d 4
139 Md.
App. 339

John E. WILLIAMS, Jr.
v.
HOFMANN BALANCING TECHNIQUES, LTD. et al

No. 1214, Sept. Term, 2000.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

July 5, 2001.


776 A.2d 6
Leslie Hayes Russo (Paul D. Beckman, Israelson, Salsbury, Clements & Beckman, L.L.C., Baltimore, and Robert Wendt, Joel A. Pool and Holloran, Wendt & McMath, L.L.C., St. Louis, MO, on the brief), for appellant

Michael A. Brown (Troy A. Priest and Brown, Diffenderffer & Kearney, L.L.P., on the brief), Baltimore, for appellees, Hofmann and Perfect Hofmann U.S.A.

George M. Church (Marisa A. Trasatti and Church & Houff, P.A., on the brief), Baltimore for appellee, Perfect Equipment Corp.

Argued before JAMES R. EYLER, KRAUSER, and ROBERT L. KARWACKI (Ret., specially assigned), JJ.

776 A.2d 5
JAMES R. EYLER, Judge

This case presents the issue of whether an amended complaint, for purposes of the statute of limitations, relates back to the date of filing of the original complaint. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City held that it did not and entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. We disagree, vacate the judgment, and hold that the amendment does relate back to the date of filing of the original complaint.

Factual Background

We shall set forth only those background facts—procedural and otherwise— necessary to decide the issues presented. To assist in understanding a confusing scenario, we shall begin with a simplistic overview. Appellant, John Williams, Jr., was injured while using a tire changing machine. Appellant filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County against Lakeshore Exxon service station, the owner of the machine. The case was later settled and dismissed. One day before limitations ran, appellant filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, in which he sued Hofmann Balancing Techniques and Perfect Hofmann U.S.A., appellees, as the alleged sellers of the machine. Subsequently, and well after the period of limitations had run, appellant amended to name Perfect Equipment Corporation, another appellee, as the seller of the machine. Appellant claims that the amendment was the correction of a misnomer. Appellees, Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. and Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., original defendants, and Perfect Equipment Corporation, the added defendant, claim that Perfect Equipment Corporation is a new party, and that the suit against it is barred by limitations.

In our recitation of the factual background, we will not include certain details that would be desirable for the sake of completeness, most notably, the order and timing of the proceedings below. The record extract was not helpful in that regard, and the docket entries were no better. We have included the substance of all material matters relied on by the parties. We have no reason to believe that the missing details are material.

On May 1, 1995, appellant was injured while using a tire mounting machine located at the Lakeshore Exxon service station in Anne Arundel County. On July 7, 1997, appellant, represented by Joseph A. Miklasz, Esquire,1 filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County against Lakeshore Exxon, alleging negligence. In August, 1998, Lakeshore Exxon filed a third party complaint against Perfect Equipment Corporation, t/a Hofmann

776 A.2d 7
U.S.A., in which it alleged that the third party defendant was the manufacturer of the machine, and that the machine was defective. Lakeshore Exxon sought indemnification and/or contribution. Service was obtained on Perfect Equipment Corporation, apparently through its resident agent, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee

On April 30, 1998, appellant filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Automotive Service Equipment (ASE), and Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. In that complaint, Perfect Hofmann U.S.A., described as a Tennessee corporation with an address of 1435 Heil Quaker Boulevard, La Vergne, Tennessee 37086, was alleged to be the seller, manufacturer, or distributor of the machine. On September 10, 1999, ASE filed a third party complaint against Perfect Equipment Corporation, t/a Hofmann U.S.A. and Lakeshore Exxon. On the same date, it filed a cross-claim against its two co-defendants. Perfect Equipment Corporation filed a fourth party complaint against Societa Italiano Construcioni Elattrameccaniche (SICE), an Italian corporation, in which it alleged that SICE was the manufacturer of the machine. Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. filed a third party complaint against Lakeshore Exxon and SICE. In March, 2000, ASE's unopposed motion to dismiss was granted, and by virtue of ASE's dismissal, Perfect Equipment Corporation, third party defendant, ceased to be a party. Appellant filed an amended complaint on March 8, 2000, in which he amended the causes of action and added "Ltd." after the name of Hofmann Balancing Techniques. The amended complaint was filed by new counsel, Joel A. Poole, Esquire, and Robert H. Wendt, Esquire, attorneys with Holloran, Wendt & McMath, L.L.C., St. Louis, Missouri, and Elizabeth M. Fischer, Esquire, local counsel.

On October 21, 1998, the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County signed a stipulated order to transfer the case filed in Anne Arundel County to Baltimore City. This order was docketed on November 19, 1998. Accordingly, the case filed in Anne Arundel County was consolidated with the action originally filed in Baltimore City. On March 20, 2000, appellant dismissed the case originally filed in Anne Arundel County with prejudice, stating that it had been "settled." Appellant did not conduct any discovery in that case to identify or confirm the identity of the seller of the machine.

On April 24, 2000, Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd. and Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground that appellant had misused the machine and assumed the risk of injury. The motion was supported in part by an affidavit of Robert Benson. On April 28, 2000, appellant's counsel took the deposition of Robert Benson, who appeared pursuant to appellant's notice to take the deposition of a corporate designee of Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. Mr. Benson testified that Perfect Hofmann did not come into existence until January 25, 1991 and that Perfect Equipment Corporation sold the machine, not Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. He also testified that Perfect Equipment Corporation had a division called "Perfect Hofmann" from 1988 to 1991, and it was that division that sold the machine.

On May 3, 2000, apparently as a result of the Benson deposition, Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd. and Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. amended the memorandum in support of their summary judgment motion and filed an amended affidavit by Robert Benson. The purpose was to correct prior statements implying that Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. had sold the machine to state that, instead, the machine had been

776 A.2d 8
sold by Perfect Equipment Corporation. The "statement of undisputed facts" in the original memorandum in support of the summary judgment motion contained the following: "The machine which was purchased by Perfect Hofmann from SICE was manufactured by S.I.C.E. in 1990. (Exhibit D, Affidavit of Robert Benson)." The statement in the amended memorandum provided: "The machine which was sold by Perfect Equipment Corp. to Automotive Service Equipment was manufactured by S.I.C.E. in 1990. (Exhibit D, Affidavit of Robert Benson)." The amended affidavit by Robert Benson, dated May 3, 2000, stated that the machine was manufactured by SICE in 1990 and was sold to ASE in November or December of 1990 by Perfect Equipment Corporation.

On May 8, 2000, appellant filed a motion for partial summary judgment, seeking a ruling, as a matter of law, that Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. had sold the machine. The motion was based on pleadings, discovery, and correspondence from counsel for defendants, Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., Perfect Hofmann U.S.A., and third party defendant, Perfect Equipment Corporation,2 in which counsel and the parties admitted that Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. and/or Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd. had sold the machine.

Appellant points to the following in support of his motion.3 First, the "General Counsel of Berwind Industries, L.L.C., parent company of Perfect Equipment L.L.C." sent a letter dated September 18, 1998, to counsel for Lakeshore Exxon, third party plaintiff. The author stated that he received the third party complaint against Perfect Equipment Corporation [presumably filed in the Anne Arundel County action] and that it contained several errors. In pertinent part, he stated, (1) "Perfect Equipment" was reorganized in 1997 as a Delaware limited liability company and was known as "Perfect Equipment Company L.L.C.," (2) "Perfect Equipment" never traded as "Hofmann U.S.A.," (3) "Perfect Equipment" never sold tire machines "at any time since 1990," (4) the manufacturer of the machine at issue was believed to be SICE, (5) from January 1990 through January 1991, "Perfect" and Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd. were partners in a partnership known as Perfect Hofmann U.S.A., and (6) "Perfect Equipment" believes that, at all relevant times, Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd. sold SICE tire machines in the United States. The author requested that the third party complaint be dismissed.

Second, Richard Hofmann filed an affidavit dated December 30, 1998. In it, Mr. Hofmann identified himself as corporate insurance manager of Berwind Corporation, the parent company of Perfect Equipment Company, L.L.C., successor to Perfect Equipment Corporation. Mr. Hofmann stated that the machine in question was sold in 1991 by Perfect Hofmann U.S.A. to a distributor that, in turn, sold it to Lakeshore Exxon. As near as we can tell, this affidavit was filed in connection with an unsuccessful effort by the defendants in the Baltimore City action to transfer the case to Anne Arundel County.

Third, on April 7, 2000, Hofmann...

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12 practice notes
  • State v. Andrews, No. 1496, Sept. Term, 2015.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 30, 2016
    ...on technicalities." Bond v. Slavin, 157 Md.App. 340, 352–53, 851 A.2d 598 (2004). Cf. Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., 139 Md.App. 339, 356–57, 776 A.2d 4 (2001)(holding that the appellant's failure to identify one of the appellees on his notice of appeal did not deprive this......
  • Ferguson v. Loder, No. 873, September Term, 2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 7, 2009
    ...an amendment that corrects the name of a party relates back to the original filing date. Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., 139 Md.App. 339, 364-65, 776 A.2d 4 (2001); see Rule 2-341(c) ("An amendment [to a complaint] may seek to ... correct misnomer of a party[.]"). The additi......
  • Gilbert v. U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Civil Action No. TDC–15–2127
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • January 23, 2018
    ...an original party, it relates back; if a new party is added, it does not relate back." Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd. , 139 Md.App. 339, 776 A.2d 4, 19 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2001). The key is whether a newly joined party had notice within the limitations period of the lawsuit ......
  • Lovero v. Joelma Da Silva., No. 1547
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 2011
    ...orders for appeal.” Newman v. Reilly, 314 Md. 364, 386, 550 A.2d 959 (1988); see, e.g., Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., 139 Md.App. 339, 356–57, 776 A.2d 4 (2001) (holding that the appellant's failure to identify one of the appellees on his notice of appeal did not deprive t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • State v. Andrews, No. 1496, Sept. Term, 2015.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 30, 2016
    ...on technicalities." Bond v. Slavin, 157 Md.App. 340, 352–53, 851 A.2d 598 (2004). Cf. Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., 139 Md.App. 339, 356–57, 776 A.2d 4 (2001)(holding that the appellant's failure to identify one of the appellees on his notice of appeal did not deprive this......
  • Ferguson v. Loder, No. 873, September Term, 2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 7, 2009
    ...an amendment that corrects the name of a party relates back to the original filing date. Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., 139 Md.App. 339, 364-65, 776 A.2d 4 (2001); see Rule 2-341(c) ("An amendment [to a complaint] may seek to ... correct misnomer of a party[.]"). The additi......
  • Gilbert v. U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Civil Action No. TDC–15–2127
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • January 23, 2018
    ...an original party, it relates back; if a new party is added, it does not relate back." Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd. , 139 Md.App. 339, 776 A.2d 4, 19 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2001). The key is whether a newly joined party had notice within the limitations period of the lawsuit ......
  • Lovero v. Joelma Da Silva., No. 1547
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 2011
    ...orders for appeal.” Newman v. Reilly, 314 Md. 364, 386, 550 A.2d 959 (1988); see, e.g., Williams v. Hofmann Balancing Techniques, Ltd., 139 Md.App. 339, 356–57, 776 A.2d 4 (2001) (holding that the appellant's failure to identify one of the appellees on his notice of appeal did not deprive t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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