The Third Department determined plaintiff’s attempt to file an amended complaint naming a defendant (Rytec) which had been identified as John Doe was time-barred. The initial complaint was filed three days before the statute of limitations expired and the John Doe designation did not toll the statute:
The statutory provision allowing commencement of an action against unknown parties does not toll the statute of limitations (see CPLR 1024… ). As Supreme Court held, plaintiff was required to serve all parties within 120 days of filing, or seek leave to extend the time for service “upon good cause shown or in the interest of justice” (CPLR 306-b… ). Here, plaintiff failed to seek leave to extend the time for service prior to expiration of the statutory limitations period.
Further, a party seeking to apply the relation-back doctrine under CPLR 1024 carries the burden “of establishing that diligent efforts were made to ascertain the unknown party’s identity prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations” … .
Plaintiff’s third amended complaint was filed nearly 10 months after the statute of limitations expired, with the delay essentially unexplained but for a statement that Rytec’s identity could not be ascertained until the door was inspected in May 2015. There was no effort to explain any basis for the precommencement delay, and no discussion relative to any of the potential additional discovery efforts that might or could have been undertaken prior to the expiration of the limitations period… .
Accordingly, we find that Supreme Court properly granted Rytec’s motion to dismiss the third amended complaint against it, as it was barred by the statute of limitations … . Walker v Hormann Flexon, LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 06023, Third Dept 8-3-17
CIVIL PROCEDURE (UNKNOWN PARTIES, PLAINTIFF’S ATTEMPT TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT TO ADD A PARTY INITIALLY NAMED AS JOHN DOE TIME-BARRED (THIRD DEPT))/UNKNOWN PARTIES (CIVIL PROCEDURE, PLAINTIFF’S ATTEMPT TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT TO ADD A PARTY INITIALLY NAMED AS JOHN DOE TIME-BARRED (THIRD DEPT))/JOHN DOES (CIVIL PROCEDURE, PLAINTIFF’S ATTEMPT TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT TO ADD A PARTY INITIALLY NAMED AS JOHN DOE TIME-BARRED (THIRD DEPT))