The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the relation-back doctrine did not allow plaintiff in this medical malpractice action to sue an anesthesiology group (Atanitic) as a defendant after the statute of limitations had been expired. Atlantic had been added as a defendant after the statute ran when it was discovered that a defendant anesthesiolgist, DeBrady, worked for Atlantic at the time the procedure was performed on plaintiff. DeBrady’s motion for summary judgment was not opposed and was granted. But Supreme Court held that Atlantic could remain a defendant because of the potential liability of another employee of Atlantic, non-party Cantalupo. The Second Department held that Atlantic’s liability was based solely upon respondeat superior as the employer of DeBrady, who was no longer a defendant. The court noted that, although the complaint named a “John Doe, MD,” Cantalupo could not be substituted as a party because plaintiff never moved to substitute Cantalupo and the requirements of CPLR 1024 were not met:
In order for a cause of action asserted against a new defendant to relate back to the date a claim was asserted against another defendant, the plaintiff must establish that “(1) the [cause of action] arises out of the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence, (2) the additional party is united in interest with the original party, and (3) the additional party knew or should have known that but for a mistake by the plaintiff as to the identity of the proper parties, the action would have been brought against the additional party as well (… see CPLR 203[b]). In malpractice actions, such as this one, “the defendants are considered united in interest when one is vicariously liable for the acts of the other”… . The second prong of the relation-back doctrine requires unity of interest with a party in the action … .
Since Atlantic was made a party to the action after the expiration of the statute of limitations based solely on its unity of interest with DeBrady, who was timely served, Atlantic’s liability in the instant action cannot be predicated upon vicarious liability for the alleged negligent acts of other employees of Atlantic who are not parties to this action, including nonparty Cantalupo. Accordingly, Atlantic demonstrated its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the amended complaint insofar as asserted against it, upon dismissal of the action as against DeBrady … . Ferrara v Jerome Zisfein, 2019 NY Slip Op 00096, Second Dept 1-9-19